Mallory Pugh scores a brace in Red Stars’ opening Challenge Cup win

(Jesse Louie/Just Women's Sports)

The Chicago Red Stars opened the NWSL Challenge Cup on Sunday with a 3-1 win over the Houston Dash, thanks to a brace by Mallory Pugh.

Katie Naughton got Houston on the board first with a goal in the 19th minute, but from there, it was all Chicago.

Pugh, the Red Stars’ second-leading goal scorer last season, continued her impressive form in the Challenge Cup opener, tying the game with a strike in the 27th minute.

Arin Wright converted a penalty kick to give the Red Stars a 2-1 lead in the 58th minute. Two minutes later, Pugh scored her second goal of the night from outside of the box to secure the brace and a 3-1 lead for Chicago.

Chris Petrucelli, who was named head coach of the Red Stars in mid-February, became the first coach to win their first Challenge Cup match in their NWSL debut.

The Red Stars will return home for a game against the Kansas City Current on Friday, while Houston will look to rebound against Racing Louisville FC on the same day.