The 2018 NWSL Playoffs continued as the league’s best team faced the world’s best striker.
North Carolina Courage (17-1-6) and Sam Kerr’s Chicago Red Stars met in the deciding match, sending the winner to the NWSL Championship to face Portland Thorns.
In front of 4,646 on turf at Providence Park, Kerr had more than a few chances to score. The first coming in the 9th minute, when she turned on the ball and sent a bullet towards the far corner of the goal that narrowly hit the side post.
In the 32nd minute, Kerr found herself in front of goal with a perfectly-placed pass at her feet. However, the striker had trouble getting her footing and uncharacteristically shanked the ball to the far right of goal.
Another chance came in the 67th minute when Kerr went up for a header in front of goal, but was unable to connect with the pass. Frustration was visible on the faces of Kerr and her teammates.
In stoppage time, Kerr once again found herself at the receiving end of a perfect pass in front of goal, but had a hard time turning on the ball and kicked it far wide of goal.
Will Kerr return to Chicago next season?
“If I stay injury free I will definitely be back in Chicago. The best thing for me is when I’m happy off the field and I’m happy in Chicago.” - @samkerr1 on Chicago and the future. pic.twitter.com/VyorrlZemg— Chicago Red Stars (@chiredstarsPR) September 19, 2018
North Carolina came away with the 2-0 win, earning the right to a rematch in the NWSL Championship against Portland Thorns on September 22 at Providence Park in Portland.
Despite starting the 2018 season five weeks late due to international duties, Kerr finished the season with 1,704 minutes playing time over 19 games. With 16 goals on the season, “The Wonder Down Under” was named the 2018 NWSL Golden Boot winner for the second year in a row. Kerr is the first in NWSL history to win the honours in multiple years.
In 2018, Kerr scored at a rate of 106.5 minutes per goal in 47 shots on target. In a run up to the NWSL Playoffs, Kerr scored six goals in Chicago’s last four regular season games.
Watch the NC v CHI highlights: