The Chicago Red Stars grabbed their first point of the NWSL Challenge Cup, holding off the Portland Thorns to seal a 0-0 draw at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman, Utah.
It was the second match of the tournament for both teams, and Red Stars coach Rory Dames opted for eleven new starters—a complete roster turnover from the first match.
“As a unit, we had to stay compact,” Sharples said after the match. We had to win every single challenge. So, we made it a mission of ours to jump in the attack, try to win those balls, and play to the best of our ability.”
Sharples started alongside fellow defender Hannah Davison. The two go way back, as teammates at Northwestern University, and before that at Eclipse Select Soccer Club.
“We have this really good chemistry, and we know exactly where each of us is going to be,” Sharples said. “So, having that familiarity and that comfortability next to you is awesome, because you know that they have your back.”
Dames said he planned to use the first three matches of the Challenge Cup to play and evaluate younger players, and Sharples proved today she can be counted on in bigger matches.
Another bit of good news for Chicago—midfielder Danielle Colaprico, who is battling an ankle injury, played all 45 minutes of the first half before coming off. Defender Tierna Davidson, who was also listed as questionable, did not play.
The biggest moment of the match came when Emily Boyd—Chicago’s first half goalkeeper—made a spectacular, point blank save off Portland’s Morgan Weaver early in the match.
It may not have been the usual Red Stars starters facing the usual Thorns starters, but earning a draw against Portland is still a difficult task.
“It’s always great to get a point against a great Portland side,” said Savannah McCaskill, who earned woman of the match honors after a strong, 90-minute performance. “They’ve been a problem for us in the past, so to keep them scoreless is huge.”
Next up, the Red Stars take on the North Carolina Courage on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. CT in match number three of the NWSL Challenge Cup. The teams will each play four group stage matches, which will determine the seeding for the quarterfinal.
Chicago’s Starting XI: Boyd; Goralski, Davison, Sharples, Bingham; Colaprico, Stevens, McCaskill; Johnson, Luebbert, Doniak
Subs: Miller (Boyd) HT, Rohan (Colaprico) HT, Hill (Doniak) 68’, Vasconcelos (Luebbert) 69’, Redei (Johnson) 77’