Casey Short’s late goal helps the Red Stars to their 1st NWSL Challenge Cup victory

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HERRIMAN, UT – JULY 12: Casey Short #6 of Chicago Red Stars fights for the ball with Aminata Diallo #38 of Utah Royals FC during day 7 of the NWSL Challenge Cup at Zions Bank Stadium on July 12, 2020 in Herriman, Utah. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

HERRIMAN, Utah – At this point in their first tournament in 2020, the Red Stars will take offense from anywhere in their lineup. Through the first three games in Herriman, Utah, the team had only managed a single goal.

But leave it to one of their veteran defenders to come through when the team needed it in their final preliminary round game of the NWSL Challenge Cup.

Casey Short broke a scoreless tie in the 85th minute with a header goal that would give the Red Stars a 1-0 victory over Utah Royals FC. The team now sits in a five-way tie for third place in the tournament standings, which will determine seeding for the upcoming knockout round.

Three of the other squads with four points will play in the final preliminary round games on Monday. Those results will determine where the Red Stars will be seeded when they start play in the round of eight on Friday or Saturday.

Short’s game-winner came on a strong pass from Savannah McCaskill, who put it in the air to the side of the net, allowing short to rise up and head the ball into the back of the net.

It was the first score for the Red Stars since Morgan Gautrat had a goal early in the second half against the Washington Spirit in their tournament opener on June 27th. The team failed to score in a draw against Portland and a 1-0 loss to North Carolina in their previous two games.

Short had a few chances earlier in the half – one on a header off a corner kick in which she was called for a fall on the collision with Utah goalkeeper Abby Smith and a direct shot on goal that was also saved. But she broke through in time late, scoring her first goal since September 12, 2019 against Orlando, which also came in a 1-0 win.

Along with her contributions on offense, Short helped the Red Stars’ defense continue their strong play in the tournament. She was credited with three interceptions, 12 possessions gained along with a block and a tackle.

Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher made the best play on defense in the first half, when she kept the game scoreless with a save on a shot by Arielle Ship as she raced free towards the goal.

That set up Short for the game-winner about an hour later, as a defender provided the offense the Red Stars desperately needed.

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