With one last push, one last goal, and one last goal, Chicago closed out their 2015 NWSL regular season campaign with a 1-1 draw against Houston.
Lining up in front of a boisterous crowd of nearly 6,000 at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, the Red Stars showed every ounce of quality and hard work that made them playoff contenders this season.
Results from Saturday meant that the Red Stars didn’t need to worry about home field advantage for their playoff semifinal match, but the home side definitely wanted to to close out the season with a strong performance, send their fans home happy, and build some momentum heading into next weekend’s all-important post-season clash.
The first half played out to a goalless but exciting draw, interrupted only briefly with a mandated water break due to the extreme heat. The second half proved another story. Ella Masar scored a stunner from outside the box to put the Dash up 1-0 just after the hour mark.
Okay, @emasar3. #NWSL pic.twitter.com/RJNMWwX0y6— Our Game Magazine (@OurGameMagazine) September 6, 2015
The Red Stars, not wanting to end the season on a sour note, pushed hard for an equalizer. They finally got their reward in the dying minutes of the game, when a lofted ball from Arin Gilliland found the head of Julie Johnston and then the lethal right foot of Christen Press.
Chicago Red Stars 1, Houston Dash 1. Press equalizes in the 90th minute. Masar with the goal for Houston. #NWSL pic.twitter.com/QIN2FTgv4B— Our Game Magazine (@OurGameMagazine) September 6, 2015
Carli Lloyd nearly found a late winner moments before full time, but Karina LeBlanc came up big- as she had all day- in her last regular season game as a professional footballer. The Red Stars hung on for their point and ended the season in 2nd place, with a record of 8 wins, 9 draws, and 3 losses.
The stage is now set for Chicago’s first appearance in the NWSL playoffs. They’ll host FC Kansas City next Sunday at Toyota Park. Kickoff is at 12:30pm, and tickets are available now.