HERRIMAN, Utah – When fans looked at the lineup that head coach Rory Dames put out on Wednesday morning, it certainly was a little different.
That might be an understatement, actually.
Nearly the entire lineup was made up of backups as Dames decided to give his regulars some rest as they ease back into play in 2020. Remember, Saturday’s NWSL Tournament opening game against Washington was the first game for the club since October.
The COVID-19 pandemic, as with the rest of the league, postponed most preseason training sessions and the majority of the regular season schedule.
The lineup also featured six players who were starting for the first time in their careers – Kayla Sharples, Hannah Davison, Zoey Goralski, Julia Bingham, Ella Stevens, and Sarah Luebbert. Meanwhile Cassie Miller, Cassie Rohan, and Zoe Redei each saw their first NWSL action as substitutes.
Yet this relatively new lineup was able to fend off a strong attack by the Portland Thorns at Zions Bank Stadium on Wednesday. Goalies Emily Boyd and Miller stopped 16 shots to help preserve a scoreless draw that got the Red Stars their first point of the tournament.
Portland had the majority of the quality chances during the late morning, early afternoon match, but Chicago’s defense held to preserve the tie.
Withing this young lineup, it was Savannah McCaskill who stepped up with a strong game, playing all 90 minutes plus six in stoppage. She registered three shots on goal and had a pair of tackles to help the Red Stars get a point.
The team gets a few days off before they have a 2019 NWSL Championship Game rematch against the North Carolina Courage on Sunday at 11:30 AM.