Chicago City struggled in their season opener on Wednesday night, losing to one of the best teams in the WPSL, Red Stars Reserves, 5-0.
The Reserves wasted no time getting off to a good start as they scored in the fourth minute. The ball was pushed quickly down the left-hand side of the attack and a low cross was driven across the six-yard box, finding its way to a Reserves player for a 1-0 lead.
City responded well to conceding by creating a couple chances throughout the first half, though the home side was unable to truly test the Reserves keeper. However, City did prove to be a thorn in the side of the Reserves as they hunkered down in the middle of pitch, limiting the Reserves free-flowing attack.
“We stuck to our game plan and it was frustrating them to the point they were turning the ball over quite a bit,” Head Coach Nick Mulvaney said. That game plan allowed City to be down by just a goal at halftime.
However, the Reserves side flipped the script in the blink of an eye and tripled the lead within the first 10 minutes of the half. A beautiful individual goal was scored in the 48th minute as the goalscorer sliced through the City back line, while another goal was added just six minutes later. Just like that, it was a 3-0 Reserves lead.
“I think they started with a bit of a higher intensity than we did [in the second half],” captain Gabby Whittinghill said. “That first goal in the second half got our heads down a bit and then the next goal, we sort of dropped off after that. And then it’s hard to get back up for the game as quickly as we needed to against a team as good as that.”
While the game quickly became out of reach for City, the players continued to play with effort, passion, and heart, something Coach Mulvaney was thrilled with.
“It’s something we try to instill in our players every year,” Mulvaney said, “to keep going and work for one another. And even as the second half got away from us, it was about our girls getting prepared for the season ahead of us and I feel we can take that away from today’s game.”
Either way, City will be disappointed with the scoreline and will want to improve certain things for upcoming matches. “I think we need to improve defensively, close down those gaps a bit more. We were a bit disconnected at times,” Whittinghill said. “We also need to create a bit more opportunities offensively. But aside from a few girls, everyone here is new. We’ve only been playing with each other a month and a half so chemistry will come with more reps.”
City will get another one of those reps as they face off against the Milwaukee Torrent on Saturday. Kickoff will be at 4:30p at the Chicago Lions for Hope Sports Complex.