Chicago Red Stars forward Kealia Watt scored her first two goals for her new club, and added an assist in a 4-1 win over Sky Blue FC Sunday afternoon in the NWSL Fall Series.
It was actually Sky Blue that opened the scoring in the sixth minute, when Ifeoma Onumonu tapped in a ball spilled by Alyssa Naeher in front of the net.
A ⚡️ fast start.@ify_on22 gives @SkyBlueFC an early advantage.— NWSL (@NWSL) September 20, 2020
0-1 | #CHIvNJ
Tune in now on @CBSAllAccess and @Twitch.#NWSLFallSeries | #VerizonCommunityShield pic.twitter.com/fBEXXRhN16
The Red Stars would respond quickly. Kealia Watt scored her first goal in a Red Stars uniform, using her speed to make a hard run with the ball from the left side, slotting it past Sky Blue keeper Didi Haracic.
“I think it’s really important especially for us when we go down to try to score quickly,” Watt said after the match. “That was huge for us. Once it was 1-0, and it starts getting later and later, you start getting panicked trying to create something. So it was awesome for us to get that goal right away.”
The @KealiaOhai showed on this goal pic.twitter.com/cpvOsOAVMb— Chicago Red Stars (@chiredstarsPR) September 20, 2020
In the 28th minute, Zoey Goralski scored her first career goal for the Red Stars. She make a hard run to the goal to catch up with a long pass by Morgan Gautrat, used a touch to get around the goalkeeper, and calmly finished it to put Chicago ahead.
Classic Chicago grit and hustle from @zoeygoralski #CHIvNJ pic.twitter.com/WG5C32afqt— Chicago Red Stars (@chiredstarsPR) September 20, 2020
Chicago would go on to score twice more. Vanessa DiBernardo made it 3-1 Red Stars just before the half, off an assist by Watt. And then in the 57th minute, Watt—who started the match in the center forward position rather than out wide—scored again on a 2v2 break off an assist from Sarah Luebbert, making it 4-1 Chicago.
“Yeah hi, can I ᵤₕₕₕₕ get a ✌️ piece?” pic.twitter.com/Nu0hK1Smbe— Chicago Red Stars (@chiredstarsPR) September 20, 2020
“Really excited for Kealia,” Red Stars Head Coach Dames said in his post-match news conference. “She has a lot more tools than I thought she did, and we’re trying to figure out the best place to use her. In Utah [at the Challenge Cup], we tried her in the wide spaces. I think she got pulled too far away from the goal. We had a talk a few weeks ago about going to the 9, and it’s been a work in progress, but I thought she was really good last week, too.”
The match marked the first career start for 2020 draft pick Camryn Biegalski, whom Dames praised after the match. Aerial Chavarin and Dani Rhodes also saw action for Chicago in the win.
It marked the first time the Red Stars played a home match since last year’s semifinal win over Portland Thorns FC. Because of the pandemic, the game was played without fans in the stands.
“Last year with the fans was simply incredible,” Dames said of the empty stadium. “I think that’s one of the biggest disappointments with our players, our coaches, our staff as a whole, I think we really do feel a genuine connection to the fans of the Red Stars... I wish they could have been here to see the four goals.”
Next up, the Red Stars host Washington Spirit Saturday, Sept. 26 at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview. The game is at noon CT, and will be televised nationally on CBS.
CHI: GK Naeher, D Morse, D Biegalski, D Gorden, D St. Georges, M Gautrat (Chavarin 65’), M Colaprico, M DiBernardo, F Goralski (Rhodes 77’), F Watt, F Leubbert (Davison 87’)
NJ: GK Haracic (Sheridan 45’), D Dorsey, D Lewandowski, D Freeman (Johnson 61’), D Flores (Skroski 71’, M Killion, M Richarson, M Cudjoe (Baxter 76’), F Monaghan, F Onumonu, F Purce