On Sunday night, Utah played themselves to a ___ over the Chicago Red Stars. This match was Utah’s final match in the group stage of the NWSL Challenge Cup. Utah won’t know their final seeding of the group stage or partner until the rest of the teams finish up play.
Utah started a rotated lineup, missing key parts of their team like Amy Rodriguez and Lo’eau LaBonta in this one. Abby Smith got yet another start though, and despite being an inexperienced lineup, Utah was able to come out on the front foot.
Utah played pretty well from the start and nearly got a penalty call just minutes into this game, but it wasn’t called.
Utah settled into this match a little bit and were able to maintain possession but lacked what Rodriguez usually brings, that creative attack. Unable to truly flourish in the attacking third, Utah saw chances but were unable to capitalize.
Due to an injury to Taylor Leach in the 25’, Utah was forced to make an early sub and bring in Elizabeth Ball.
Shipp found a promising look in the 29’ minute, but Alyssa Naeher pushed her shot just wide.
It was pretty back and forth for the rest of the half, but right before the halftime break, Abby Smith made a great save to keep things level into halftime.
Vero Boquete subbed on for Britt Ratcliffe coming out of halftime and adding some creativity to the midfield.
In the 52’, Chicago nearly found the first goal, but Casey Short had to foul Smith to get there, and the game remained 0-0. Utah quickly broke on the counter and tried to catch Naeher sleeping but was unable.
The game got very back and forth from there, but neither team was able to find a goal. Then, Utah made their third substitution in the 58th minute to bring on LaBonta for Maddie Nolf.
After subbing on, LaBonta got into a nasty collision with Savannah McCaskill, leaving a bomb on her forehead, though she seemed to be okay and continued to play.
In the 71’, Tziarra King and Kelley O’Hara subbed on for Katie Bowen and Taylor Lytle. These subs brought some firepower into the attack and gave Utah some more hope of finding a goal in this one.
With those subs, Utah opened the game up significantly, but it would still be Chicago who found the back of the net first, a header from Casey Short beat Smith at the near post in the 84th minute.
Utah tried to find the equalizing goal but would be unable and ultimately drop their final group stage match to the Red Stars, losing 1-0.