BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. — Michele Vasconcelos scored a go-ahead goal on her first Mother’s Day match as a professional soccer player.
Vasconcelos, mom to a young daughter, helped the Chicago Red Stars to a 3-1 win Sunday against the North Carolina Courage. After Sam Kerr gave the Red Stars an early lead and Lynn Williams tied it for the Courage, Vasconcelos scored the deciding goal five minutes before halftime.
Vasconcelos received a pass from Kerr just outside the box and fired a shot that snuck inside the post. It was Vasconcelos’ second goal of the season.
“A goal for my little girl,” Vasconcelos said.
Vasconcelos was drafted by the Red Stars in 2017, but didn’t debut until 2018 due to her pregnancy. She and coach Rory Dames both said that last year was about getting adjusted to the league and shaking off rust after missing so much time. Now Dames is predicting eight to 10 goals this season from the 25-year-old Vasconcelos.
“Having a year under my belt, I feel stronger, more confidence. It feels like a whole different player,” Vasconcelos said. “I came in still breastfeeding my baby. I think just adjusting to motherhood, too, was just a hard transition for me.”
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Vasconcelos nearly had a second goal early in the second half. Her shot hit the post and rebounded back in front of the goal. Vasconcelos stretched for the rebound tap-in, but it was just out of reach.
“Michele has had a great season for us to this point, as has a majority of the group,” Dames said. “For her to get a goal on Mother’s Day I thought was pretty cool. It would have been cooler if she got two, but I’m happy for her. I’m sure Scarlett will be happy when she wakes up tomorrow.”
To open the scoring, Yuki Nagasato slid the ball into Kerr in the box and she did the rest. Kerr slid a shot under goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland in the 13th minute.
Williams tied the match 20 minutes later by redirecting a cross from Merritt Mathias. Williams caught goalkeeper Emily Boyd leaning towards the back post, expecting the ball to get all the way through.
Kerr finished it off with a thunderous strike in added time to make it 3-1. Kerr now has four goals and one assist on the season.
“I was kind of getting a bit scared there that I was dropping out of form,” Kerr said. “I kind of owed that one to my teammates. I missed a few sitters the last two games, but it’s nice to get the win at home. That puts us in a good position.”
The Red Stars (2-1-2, 8 points) handed North Carolina (2-1-2, 8 points) its first loss since June 16, 2018. Between the 2018 and 2019 regular seasons and the 2018 playoffs, that was a 17-match unbeaten run for the Courage.
“Probably the better team won tonight,” North Carolina coach Paul Riley said. “We didn’t get going at all. We lacked our usual energy. Usually we’re a high press team, but we didn’t get the ball back quick enough. They hurt us in transition. Kerr is obviously a handful and she hurt us in transition.”