Rochester, NY (July 25, 2012) – The Chicago Red Stars were a team on a mission Wednesday night in Rochester during the WPSL Elite Semifinals against Boston Breakers, coming out with a commanding 3-1 victory to earn their way to the Championship Saturday. The Red Stars were led by captain Lori Chalupny and forward Ella Masar who each had a goal and an assist. Lauren Fowlkes added another goal, and Julianne Sitch had an assist of her own. Breakers’ substitute Amanda DaCosta scored their lone goal, unassisted.
“Tonight’s win was a great team win,” said Red Stars’ defender Jackie Santacaterina. “We had a game plan, were able to follow through with it and we found success.”
It seemed part of the game plan was to put high, and constant pressure, on the Breakers right from the start. The Red Stars came out dominating much of the first half of play but, in spite of numerous shot opportunities, were only able to muster one goal before the break. It came early, in the 13th minute, when midfielder Lori Chalupny sent a long corner kick to the back post that only had to be nudged into the goal by defender Lauren Fowlkes. Both players are leading the team with 17 points each on the year.
While most expected the Breakers to come out re-energized to start the second half, it would be the Red Stars again that would strike just one minute back into play when Lori Chalupny received a short pass from a streaking Ella Masar. It looked like Chalupny might not be able to control the ball, which she nearly ran right past, but somehow got her feet under her and blasted the ball into the left side of the net to take the Red Stars up 2-0 in the 46th minute.
With the Breakers still looking out of their rhythm, the Red Stars would add one more security goal for the evening in the 66th minute. Julianne Sitch got herself free on the right side of the field and sent in a high cross. The Breakers were able to reach the ball first, but sent it right back to the feet of Sitch. This time she would drive a pass low, directly to Ella Masar, who had no problem finishing on her first tally of the season.
The Breakers would carry a never-say-die attitude through the final 10 minutes of the match, and even snuck a goal back in the 80th minute when the Red Stars were unable to clear their corner kick. The ball bounced backwards to the right side of the goal, where Amanda DaCosta was waiting. She touched a light lobbed ball that drifted just over Forbes’ head and into the net, keeping the Red Stars from a clean sheet and giving the Breakers hope in the waning minutes of the match. But the Red Stars would hold out for the victory and give themselves an opportunity to compete for the championship in 3-days time.
“We had a good performance tonight,” remarked midfielder Jen Buczkowski. “We were able to play through them and also get behind their back line with pace. I think Saturday will be a great game. The Flash is the only team that beat us twice in the regular season so playing them is something we are looking forward to.”
“I am really proud of our effort tonight,” said Chalupny. “Things were clicking for us. Our energy and movement off the ball was great.”
“But that game is behind us. Now our focus is on putting together a great performance against the Flash in the championship.”
The Red Stars are seeking a rare ‘double’ in women’s soccer, having already won the United States Amateur Soccer Association’s Women’s Amateur National Cup this past Sunday. It was the team’s first entry into the National Cup in their 4-year history. This weekend will be their second trip to a league national championship. The Red Stars were members of WPSL in 2011 and succeeded in making it all the way to the final, which was hosted in Chicago. They lost in overtime to the Orange County Waves in a hard fought match.
It will be a formidable matchup for the Red Stars on Saturday, having to come up against the only team that beat them twice during the WPSL Elite regular season. Red Stars suffered a hard 3-0 loss in Rochester before dropping the rematch 2-1 in Chicago. WNY Flash is also attempting their 3rd championship in as many years in their third different league. They won the W-League championship in 2010, followed by the WPS championship last season. It is also the second championship in a row they are hosting on their home field.
The WPSL Elite Championship will take place at Sahlen’s Stadium in Rochester on Saturday, July 28th, at Noon CT/ 1PM ET. Tickets are available at www.wnyflash.com and a live webcast will be available at www.livesportsvideo.com.
Lauren Fowlkes (Lori Chalupny) 14’
Lori Chalupny (Ella Masar) 54’
Ella Masar (Julianne Sitch) 66’
Amanda DaCosta (Unassisted) 80’
Chicago: Jamie Forbes GK, Mary Therese McDonnell, Lauren Fowlkes, Jackie Santacaterina (Lauren Alkek 90’), Michelle Wenino, Julianne Sitch (Shayla Mutz 81’), Alyssa Mautz, Lori Chalupny, Jen Buczkowski, Ella Masar (Ashlee Elliott 90’), Michele Weissenhofer (Ashleigh Ellenwood 75’)
Boston: Alice Binns (GK), Courtney Jones (Katherine Donnelly 13’), Taryn Hemmings, Julie King, Elli Reed, Leslie Osborne, Bianca D’Agostino (Amanda DaCosta 59’), Melissa Henderson, Jess Luscinski (Tameka Butt 56’), Kyah Simon, Katie Schoepfer
Shots: Chicago 12, Boston 7
Shots on Goal: Chicago 6, Boston 4
Fouls: Chicago 7, Boston 2
The WPSL Elite League is new in 2012. The 8-team league is ASA Chesapeake Charge, Boston Breakers, Chicago Red Stars, FC Indiana, New England Mutiny, New York Fury, Philadelphia Fever, and WNY Flash.
Join our mailing list at www.chicagoredstars.com for details and follow the team on twitter @chicagoredstars and facebook.com/chicagoredstars.