For all the positive momentum and attention the Chicago Red Stars received for reaching the NWSL Championship, things unraveled quickly once the game kicked off.
The Red Stars’ first appearance in the NWSL final was not one to remember. The host North Carolina Courage won 4-0 to win their second straight NWSL title.
Vanessa DiBernardo had an early shot for the Red Stars in the second minute which required a solid save from Stephanie Labbe. After that, the Red Stars were under siege,
The top-seeded Courage got a goal in the fourth minute from Debinha and kept piling on the pressure. Two more goals put the game out of reach before the break. U.S. national teamer Sam Mewis added a fourth goal on a header in the second half.
Red Stars forward Sam Kerr, who broke her own single-season record with 18 goals this season and was named the league MVP just days before the final, was unable to get on the board. The Australian had a pair of solid chances, but couldn’t convert.
The Red Stars went 2-0-1 against the Courage in the regular season and Kerr scored in all three of those games. Neither of those trends continued.
The Red Stars’ season featured a fifth straight playoff appearance and a first-ever final appearance. They won a semifinal in front of a raucous home crowd the week before. They also had a record crowd of 17,388 in a July 21 match that was the first game back for the team’s returning World Cup winners. However, the final defeat, and especially the way it happened, will leave a bitter taste in their mouths.
To the supporters who kept cheering, the players that kept grinding, and a city who always had our backs.— Chicago Red Stars (@chiredstarsPR) October 27, 2019
Thank you, Chicago 👏 pic.twitter.com/LL5YDhwZV4
Red Stars coach Rory Dames tweeted out some reaction to the final.
Congratulations to @TheNCCourage @prileyfury4life and his staff. Incredible performance from his team and deserved winners today. What they have built with their group is special. No excuses for the result, it is a simple as that.— Rory Dames (@dames_rory) October 27, 2019
To my team, mystaff and our fans @ChicagoLocal134 , it was an incredible year.We accomplished so many first together this year. And they were accomplished TOGETHER. A disappointing ending for all of us, but...— Rory Dames (@dames_rory) October 27, 2019
“Champions keep playing until they get it right”-BJK#MKOT#LFG