Racing Louisville FC took a step closer to the closing of their inaugural season Thursday night, erasing an early deficit to close out their home fixtures with a draw against NJ/NY Gotham FC.
“The last two games have exemplified what [Racing Louisville] are all about as human beings,” said interim head coach Mario Sanchez. “To play teams that are fighting for the playoffs, to go a goal down and come back, it speaks volumes about them as people, about our players, about our culture that is being developed.”
Racing were on the back foot early, as Gotham forward Carli Lloyd, playing in her penultimate NWSL match, sliced through Louisville’s backline to find Ify Onumonu, who found the back of the net in the 7th minute after her initial shot was blocked.
Louisville withstood Gotham’s attack, which outshot the hosts by 19-9 with a 7-3 shots on goal advantage, and were eventually able to pull one back in the 52nd minute courtesy of a quick counterattack after Lauren Milliet forced a turnover and found Katie McClure at midfield with space to dribble. A clever pass from McClure found the overlapping striker Cece Kizer, who buried the equalizer.
“It’s not ideal to concede early, but I think for all of us it’s, they get one, and we can get one right back and we know that we can counter quickly and get balls in the back of the net,” Kizer said.
Gotham almost had a winner in the 81st minute, with Lloyd chipping a weighted pass to a streaking Midge Purce. Purce’s shot in the box was deflected by a well-timed challenge from Racing defender Kaleigh Riehl before landing safely in the gloves of goalkeeper Katie Lund.
The result has, for now, delayed Gotham’s clinching of a postseason berth, though the New Jersey-based club remains in a position to make the expanded postseason. Gotham are in fifth place with 34 points, while Houston Dash and North Carolina Courage are jockeying for the sixth and final spot with 32 points each heading into the final day of matches this weekend.
Gotham FC will have another bite at the cherry against Racing, this time at home, on Sunday, Oct. 31 for the league’s final regular season fixture. The match will determine Gotham’s fate; a win or tie, or a North Carolina draw or loss, would help to clinch Gotham’s spot.
“Honestly, we’ve never talked about it, at all, Sanchez said. “Which I love, because this is about us. One thing I always want the players to know [is] that it’s always about us. Whether it’s tonight, whether it’s [last week] versus Orlando, or Sunday, let’s just be the best team we can be.”
(Image courtesy of Racing Louisville FC twitter)