On Sunday, October 15th, Bridgeview residents joined the Chicago Red Stars for their final match of the 2023 NWSL Season Finale Match themed “She inspires me night” against OL Reign.
The pressure was high for the OL Reign to perform well for the match as they were neck and neck with six other teams competing to secure 1 of 4 spots in the NWSL playoffs. When the Red Stars Bridgeview Night kickoff took place at 4pm, the action was instant. Players from both teams vigorously vied for the ball, coming at each other with confidence from the start. The Red Stars and their goalie Alyssa Naeher made incredible saves and maintained an impenetrable defense minute after minute, preventing OL Reign from scoring any goals in the first half despite multiple shots.
Feeling the weight of the future on their shoulders, OL Reign were forced to increase their aggression to play for a win. Two minutes into the second half, OL Reign’s Megan Rapinoe finally broke the symmetry of the score by launching a well-placed shot that slipped past the Red Stars’ defenses. But the veteran Rapinoe wasn’t satisfied with just one goal. Just three minutes later she took a nearly identical shot that bounced off the inside of the right goal post and into the Red Stars’ net despite another headlong dive from Naeher. OL Reign maintained the momentum with Jess Fishlock running ahead of her defenders, getting a great pass, and striking the ball into the lower right pocket all in an instant.
The Red Stars were down but not out. They stayed on top of their opponents for the rest of the second half as they kept their composure and refused to allow any more goals. The night ended with a 0-3 score in favor of OL Reign that made for an exciting fight for them to enter into the playoffs.
The last game of the Chicago Red Stars’ 2023 season was also the last game of retiring Red Stars forward Cheyna Mathews. Matthews started out as a star collegiate soccer player, with her sophomore year performance naming her First-Team All-SEC, an honor for top talent. She went on to play for multiple collegiate, professional, and international teams, including the U.S. under-23 team and the Jamaica women’s national team. Matthews joined the Red Stars in March 2023 and finished her decorated career with this final “She inspires me night” game.
OL Reign’s winger Megan Rapinoe also announced her retirement, making this night her final regular season game. Rapinoe’s illustrious soccer career included being named The Best FIFA Women’s Player in 2019, winning gold with the U.S. national team at the 2012 London Summer Olympics, 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, and 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, and co-captaining the national team from 2018 to 2020. Rapinoe started in the NWSL as a Chicago Red Star and scored two almost back-to-back goals, making her last regular season game a fitting one. She’ll finish out her career in the playoffs with OL Reign.
Both Cheyna Matthews and Megan Rapinoe exemplify the “She inspires me” theme of what was a hard-fought game. Bridgeview residents who attended bore witness to the ends of two full careers of fantastic soccer players inspiring women and young girls throughout the U.S. and the world. Regardless of the game’s outcome, everyone enjoyed spectacular soccer to end the Red Stars 2023 Season.
The Chicago Red Stars will return to SeatGeek Stadium in 2024 ready to rise to the top of the league once again. 2024 Season tickets are on sale now. Individual ticket sales will open at a later date. To keep up on the latest Red Stars news and developments be sure to follow them on Facebook @chicagoredstars