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As it turns out, soccer is theoretically a 90-minute game, but all it really takes is five minutes.
The Red Stars got a result at the death on Sunday, earning a draw against the North Carolina Courage 2-2, despite going into stoppage time down two goals. The game wasn’t Chicago’s best effort, as they would admit after it was over.
But again the team found a way to keep its regular season campaign going strong, despite dealing with a press from North Carolina that gave them more trouble than they were used to thus far this season.
In classic NWSL fashion, that stoppage time period held more than a little bit of chaos. So I’ve compiled a breakdown of everything that happened in those final five minutes of the game, to maybe bring some order to a whirlwind finish:
90:00 – A minimum of three minutes of stoppage time is added to the end of the game after a half that saw a number of substitutions and one goal. Chicago has been pushing to get back into the match, but North Carolina has been staunch in defending in the box.
90+0:20 – Chicago immediately gets their first goal back on a fantastic two-player effort! Vanessa DiBernardo curls the ball up towards Sarah Griffith, perfectly splitting the defenders. Griffith then weights the ball perfectly, chipping it over Katelyn Rowland to beat the keeper off her line. The scoreline is now 2-1 in favor of North Carolina.
90+1:05 – Restart after the goal, almost 45 seconds later. Chicago took a moment to huddle in celebration, before running back towards the center circle. In the stadium, there was also a bit of a scuffle as the Courage slowed the Red Stars down briefly in their attempts to bring the ball back to the half-field line, as noted by the center official, who reprimanded the Courage.
90+1:11 – Foul called on the Red Stars at midfield.
90+1:26 – North Carolina with an unhurried restart after the foul.
90+1:30 – North Carolina free kick goes immediately out of bounds. Chicago throw-in, that gets bogged down in the midfield for 45 seconds.
90+ 2:15 – Things are about to get weirder. After the ball bounces around the midfield, North Carolina’s Ryan Williams sends a ball forward to Jorian Baucom. Tatumn Milazzo is beaten by the ball, and the Red Stars defense has been stretched and split, forcing Zoe Morse into a last-ditch recovery run
90+2:20 – Baucom switches the ball from her right foot to her left in the box, and Morse catches her by the ankles. Baucom embellishes the contact slightly, but it’s a clear foul from the Red Stars defender. Upon not hearing a whistle, Baucom then stands up and sends an open shot on frame wide of the post, with Emily Boyd bearing in on the angle.
90+2:25 – Baucom can’t believe it, but the Red Stars are given a goal kick off the missed shot.
90+2:57 – Before the restart, North Carolina makes a late substitute, bringing Katie Bowen on for Jaelene Daniels
90+3:02 – Emily Boyd finally takes the resulting goal kick. At this point, the original minimum amount of stoppage time has occurred.
90+3:18 – Chicago’s buildup goes slightly wrong, and a missed touch by Jill Aguilera sends the ball out for a North Carolina throw-in.
90+3:25 – The Courage is in no hurry, and the ball is thrown back in play
90+3:45 – Another throw-in, this time in favor of Chicago off a quick clearance booted into the stands by Abby Erceg. Aguilera takes it as quickly as she can after grabbing another available ball.
90+3:58 – A heavy deflection occurs to send the ball out on the North Carolina end-line. This moment is probably the deciding factor of the game. The center official indicates she is going to let the Red Stars play a last-chance corner kick before blowing the final whistle. The Courage defense turns to the ref in slight protest, but prepares for the kick.
90+4:20 – Danny Colaprico makes contact with the ball from the corner, whipped in towards the far post
90+4:22 – Closing her eyes and “praying to the man upstairs”, Amanda Kowalski ties the game with a towering header at the far post! The crowd erupts, the team piles on, the match is tied 2-2.
Final: And that’s the last touch of the match! The referee immediately blows the final whistle, and the Red Stars are still undefeated in nine games and have not yet lost at home this season. Whether there’s much more to read into the result than the product of unfailing belief, a little bit of loose officiating, and a bit of luck is hard to say. But these are the kind of points that set a team up well for a big finish, and Chicago lives to fight another day with their unbeaten streak intact.