Chicago Red Stars hang on to beat Sky Blue FC and secure spot in NWSL Challenge Cup final on Sunday

The Chicago Red Stars are off to the NWSL Challenge Cup final after staving off Sky Blue FC and securing a 3-2 win in the semifinal round on Wednesday.

An early offensive press led to two early goals in the first fifteen minutes, courtesy of Bianca St. Gerorges and Rachel Hill. That set the tempo heading into the second half for Chicago, and Savannah McCaskill put things away in the 60th minute with the team's third goal. It was the first multi-goal performance for Chicago in the tournament, with three different goal scorers on the night. Sky Blue FC scored two goals late in the second half to make things interesting before the final whistle. 

The Red Stars will face Houston Dash in the final on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. ET on CBS and CBS All Access. Both teams will be playing for the right to be crowned champions for the first time in the NWSL era.  

Takeaways

Chicago Red Stars: Coach Rory Dames and his team are moving on to the Challenge Cup final after a mixed performance in the group stage and quarterfinal round. The team had faced scoring woes throughout each of their matches, and when they needed them the most, the goals came from several players. After scoring two goals over five games, the team would connect for several on Wednesday. Chicago has extensive experience in NWSL playoff settings, but has not always been on the winning side of those games. Wednesday marks Chicago's sixth consecutive semifinal appearance, but only second ever trip to the championship game. The team didn't make things easy on themselves as they conceded a goal and caused an own goal. Chicago has seen solid defensive performances over the course of the tournament, and despite some errors tonight, will face off against Houston in the cup final. 

Sky Blue FC: Coach Freya Coombe and her team entered the tournament as long shots to compete for the Challenge Cup title. They  were missing key players with injuries in Carli Lloyd and Mal Pugh, while also trying to adapt to a new coach and style of play. Despite a rocky start in the group stage, the team began to build over the course of the tournament and play more fluidly within their possession based style, responding well after conceding and creating chances on goal. The team exits the Challenge Cup with strong individual performances on the pitch to build on for the future in players like Jennifer Cudjoe, Sabrina Flores and Midge Purce, who had her best performance of the tournament. 

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