SALT LAKE CITY — The National Women’s Soccer League’s Challenge Cup is down to its final two teams.
The monthlong tournament in Utah, which became the first team sporting event in the United States in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic when it started on June 27, will hold its title game on Sunday, with the Houston Dash and Chicago Red Stars advancing out of Wednesday’s semifinals at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy.
After three of the four quarterfinal games at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman ended with 0-0 scorelines before penalty kicks decided the winner, there was considerably more offense on Wednesday in the alternate venue, as the Dash beat Portland Thorns FC 1-0 in the morning game and the Red Stars topped Sky Blue FC 3-2 in the nightcap.
In the first contest of the day, a 69th-minute rebounded header from star Rachel Daly was the difference-maker for an upstart Dash team that fended off a Thorns side that underperformed during the preliminary round of the tournament before upsetting the mighty North Carolina Courage in the quarterfinals.
Then in the second contest of the day, the Red Stars jumped out to an early lead as Bianca St. Georges scored in just the 8th minute. Just three minutes later, Rachel Hill added another.
Chicago went up 3-0 in the 60th minute on a goal from Savannah McCaskill before things got interesting as Sky Blue’s Evelyne Viens scored in the 72nd minute and Red Stars leader Julie Ertz helped out with an own goal in the 77th minute.
The Red Stars held things down to get the win, however, which means former Alta High School stars Kealia Watt and Michele Vasconcelos will play for the tournament title on Sunday at Rio Tinto Stadium.
First kick between Houston and Chicago is set for 10:30 a.m., and the contest will be televised on CBS.