Chicago Red Stars fall 2-0 to the Houston Dash in the NWSL Challenge Cup final

Jeremy Mikula, Chicago Tribune

For the second straight season, the Chicago Red Stars found themselves in a National Women’s Soccer League final.

And for the second year in a row, they found themselves on the losing end, suffering a 2-0 defeat to the Houston Dash in the NWSL Challenge Cup final Sunday at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.

Things got off to a bad start for the Red Stars, who conceded a penalty just four minutes into the game when defender Kayla Sharples dragged down Dash midfielder Kristie Mewis in the box. Sophie Schmidt scored on the ensuing spot kick to give the Dash a 1-0 lead in the fifth minute.

Shea Groom sealed the game in first minute of second-half stoppage time when she rounded goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher and finished on a counter attack.

The Red Stars struggled to create quality chances throughout the match besides a header from Savannah McCaskill in the 15th minute that hit the post.

McCaskill was at the center of most of the Red Stars attacks, particularly in the second half when she set up Kealia Watt early in the half before putting a free kick on target in the 67th minute that forced Jane Campbell to tip the ball over the bar.

The Red Stars lost last season’s league championship match 4-0 to the North Carolina Courage.

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