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Kansas City clinches Central Division with Kristen Hamilton game-winner


Kansas City are heading to the Challenge Cup semifinals after locking up the Central Division, defeating the Chicago Red Stars 2-1 on Sunday.

The group-play victory also clinches Kansas City home advantage for the knock-out stage of the tournament.

Sunday’s matchup was slow to start as Alyssa Naeher made several critical saves to keep the game scoreless at the break.

Chicago saw some solid chances in the opening 45 minutes, but with a lengthy injury list that included Mallory Pugh and Morgan Gautrat, the Red Stars didn’t look like their full selves.

After the break the game opened up, with both sides creating quality chances in the final third.

Kansas City broke the deadlock in thrilling fashion in the 50th minute, with Alex Loera firing a long-range rocket past Naeher for the lead and her first NWSL goal.

Chicago didn’t take long to respond with Bianca St-Georges tapping in a lofted cross at the back post to equalize in the 52nd minute.

The Current took back the lead in the 76th minute with Elyse Bennett beating her defender one-on-one before playing the ball in front of the goal where Kristen Hamilton executed the finish to put the game at 2-1.

Kansas City was able to play out the match, preserving a 2-1 lead for the win. Sunday’s victory marks the club’s fourth victory of 2022, already bettering their three total wins from the 2021 regular season.

The Current will host the North Carolina Courage in the Challenge Cup semifinal on May 4.