The Kansas City Current (4-1-1, 13 pts.) shut out Racing Louisville (4-2-0, 12 pts.) 3-0 at Children’s Mercy Park on Saturday, to clinch the UKG NWSL Challenge Cup Central Division title for the second-straight season. The Current have advanced to the Challenge Cup semifinal, which will be played on September 6, 2023.
“Today the way the players showed up was exactly the way we wanted to,” said interim head coach Caroline Sjöblom. “We were aggressive, we had energy and also very brave on the ball tonight. I think this shows to the fans and everyone looking tonight that we have a good style of play. The players have jumped on the journey to be more of a possession team but also be very aggressive when we are off the ball, out of possession.”
Kansas City Current forward Kristen Hamilton also had another historic evening tallying a brace in the Current’s 3-0 victory. She tied the all-time career Challenge Cup record set by Debinha (12). It also ties her own Kansas City Current record for most Challenge Cup goals in a season with five. Hamilton also leads the Challenge Cup scoring this year with five goals.
It only took three minutes for the Current to strike. Hamilton came down the middle of the pitch and found forward Cece Kizer to her right in the box. Kizer evaded two defenders, stopping them in their tracks and returned the ball to Hamilton at the top of the penalty box. Hamilton had a strong finish, opening up with the right foot and connecting with a laser shot to the back of the net and out of the outstretched fingertips of Louisville goalkeeper Katie Lund.
Louisville had two shots hit the back of the net during the first half but neither counted as both were ruled offsides. Two huge breaks kept the Current on top, 1-0 going into halftime, as well as multiple saves from goalkeeper AD Franch, including one in the 46th minute in which she made a diving save to the far side of the net that she pulled into her chest and kept the clean sheet going into the half. The defensive effort was one to be applauded as the Current continue the stretch of four clean sheets this tournament, marking the second fewest goals allowed in the 2023 UKG NWSL Challenge Cup.
That performance continued into the second half as the Current continued to pressure Racing Louisville. Louisville went down a player in the 48th minute after Taylor Aylmer got her second yellow card and was ejected from the game.
In the 71st minute midfielder Lo’eau LaBonta ripped a right-footed blast long range, but it was just over the top of the goal. Ten minutes later a beautiful assist from midfielder Hailie Mace as she dribbled to the end line to Hamilton, yet again, gave Hamilton a brace on the night and putting KC up 2-0.
Mace wasn’t done yet. In the 90th minute Rylan Childers recorded her first career assist as she passed the ball off to Mace in the midfield and Mace finished with a rocket shot into the upper right corner of the goal, putting the match out of reach with a 3-0 lead.
With the win, the Kansas City Current have clinched at least the three seed in the UKG NWSL Challenge Cup semifinals. Location and times for the semifinal matches will be announced at a later date, dependent on the results of the OL Reign vs Portland Thorns match Sunday, August 6 and Gotham FC vs Orlando Pride match on Wednesday, August 9.
Kansas City will be back at home on Friday, August 18 at 7 p.m. as the Current return to regular season play. Single match tickets are available for all remaining home matches at Children’s Mercy Park. For pricing and information, visit kansascitycurrent.com.
NWSL Match Report
Match: Kansas City Current vs Racing Louisville
Date: August 5, 2023
Venue: Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City, Kansas
Kickoff: 7:07 p.m. CT
Weather: 87 degrees, sunny
25’ LOU – Milliet (Yellow)
31’ LOU – Fischer (Yellow)
45’ LOU – Aylmer (Yellow)
48’ LOU – Aylmer (Red, 2nd Yellow)
61’ LOU – Nadim (Yellow)
76’ KC – Winebrenner (Yellow)
3’ KC Hamilton (Kizer)
81’ KC Hamilton (Mace)
90’ KC Mace (Childers)
Kansas City Current Lineup: Kizer (86’ Childers), Ball, Del Fava, LaBonta (79’ Curran), Cooper (79’ Larsson), Rodriguez, Franch, Loera (69’ Winebrenner), Robinson, Hamilton (C), Spaanstra (46’ Mace)
Unused Substitutes: Soto, Merrick, Silkowitz, Miller
Racing Louisville Lineup: Lund, Erceg (C), Pickett, Pikkujamsa, Milliet, Aylmer, Baggett, Fischer (72’ Ekic), Monaghan, Davis (46’ Nadim), Goins (54’ Pokorny)
Unused Substitutes: Sekany, Wyne, Ekic, Shamburger, Howell, Holloway, Parker