Oak Brook, IL (July 23, 2016) The Women’s Dayton Dutch Lions (6-2-1) season came to an end as they were defeated 4-0 by the defending national champions, Chicago Red Stars Reserves (8-0-1). The Red Stars are the favorites to take the title again as they are undefeated this summer and are headed to the Final Four in Columbus next weekend.
The Lions have struggled the past three matches to finish scoring opportunities and this was their downfall in the playoff match. With a game plan in place that looked for the Lions to give up space in the midfield to maintain proper shape and numbers behind the ball, Dayton controlled the opening 20 minutes of the match. They were able to create some opportunities on the counter-attack and shut down the home team’s offensive attack. The Lions were getting down the wings and had several through balls, but could not finish the final shot.
The Red Stars struggled in the early going to find any creative space and were content to maintain possession and work the ball around the pitch. Their patience was rewarded in the 23rd minute, when a through ball was picked up on the right side and the winger rifled a shot near post. Keeper Alex Steigerwald was able to make the save, but the rebound came out and was shot far post. The ball hit the post and was going in when a Lions defender tried to clear it off the line. The signal was goal and the home team led 1-0.
The pace of the match increased and the Lions created several chances and had multiple corner kicks. The Red Stars defense and goalie were up to the challenge. In the 43rd minute, the Red Stars had a corner and knocked the ball into the six yard area. Steigerwald was able to get her hand on the cross, but not get it out of danger. A second Red Star player was able to get her head on the ball for the second goal and they led 2-0 at the half.
Trailing, the Lions changed their strategy and were much more aggressive in their attack. They had four quality chances in the opening ten minutes, but the Red Stars keeper made several very good saves. As the game continued to count down, the Lions committed more players forward trying to get a goal. They got a couple more strong openings, but could not finish. The majority of play was in the Lions offensive half and they were controlling the game. They just could not score.
The Red Stars weathered the Lions attack and were able to close the game out with two counter-attacking goals in the 83rd and 90th minutes of play. The final score was harsh for the quality of effort provided by the Lions.
“I’m disappointed for the team that the season comes to a premature end. We were well prepared for the challenge of playing Chicago and had numerous chances in the first half which we failed to convert. At this level, you can’t afford to miss those opportunities when on top, and we were duly punished,” shared Head Coach Ian Richardson.
We started the second half on the front foot and again threatened the Chicago goal without finding the necessary breakthrough. I made the decision at the end to throw bodies forward as we were chasing the game, knowing full well we might concede further.
Credit to the Red Stars as they are a good team and took their chances, but if feels like an opportunity missed.”