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Recap: Chelsea Stuns Everton in Comfortable 4-0 Victory

@CHELSEAFCW
MATCH INFO:

Chelsea 4, Everton 0 (Highlights)

Goals: Ji So-yun – 16’, Bethany England – 73’, 77’, Pernille Harder – 90’+7

Everton came to Kingsmeadow hoping to continue their unbeaten streak in the WSL, but Chelsea’s depth and clinical execution sent Everton back to Merseyside having lost 4-0.

Here’s how the action unfolded:

Chelsea had an abundance of chances during their first few possessions, constantly pinning Everton back in their own half. Chelsea’s fullbacks Maren Mjelde and Jonna Andersso were situated high and wide in Everton’s half, crossing the ball to a front three of Pernille Harder, Bethany England, and Erin Cuthbert, all of whom had early chances. However, Everton’s fullbacks were able to handle the pressure with Megan Finnigan and Rikke Sevecke successfully blocking shots and clearing loose balls.

While Chelsea was firmly in control, controlling 63.7% of the possession in the first half, Everton also had their chances during the first fifteen minutes of the match. Their best opportunity came off a miscue from Chelsea keeper Ann-Katrin Berger, who ran out from her position and cleared the ball straight into the path of Everton’s Damaris Egurrola. Egurrola then attempted to score from 40 yards out into an empty net, but the shot was just wide.

Everton would come to regret that missed chance just minutes later, when Ji So-yun scored to get Chelsea on the board. The goal was a result of Chelsea’s high press system, with England forcing a mistake and the ball landing to Ji, who was quickly able to control the loose ball and finish, beating keeper Sandy MacIver.

After the first goal, Everton struggled to get back into the match. They had two chances leading to a shot compared to Chelsea’s one before Ji scored.  After, Everton had only one compared to Chelsea’s eight up until half-time.

The beginning of the second half was quite even, with Chelsea trying for another, while Everton looked for an equalizer. Things got quite aggressive with both teams getting booked for bad fouls.

It was around the 60 minute mark where it became noticeable that Everton was slightly off rhythm. Chelsea had successfully been opening them up all match, and it was only their lack of finishing and MacIver’s saves which kept Everton in the game.

Everton had struggled with England all match though, and eventually she was able to break through with two goals in quick succession.

The first came when Melanie Leupolz was able to dribble through two of Everton’s defenders. While she was fouled, the ball landed right at England’s feet, who was able to fire from close range.

The second came from a rebound which created chaos in front of the goal. England was the first to react, and she headed the ball into the back of the net.

England, who had not been getting many minutes for Chelsea as of late, proved what a valuable asset she can be for the team. She will be a decisive player in the coming weeks for Emma Hayes should she continue her form.

Down 3-0, Everton looked quite defeated knowing they had lost not just their place as second in the table, but also their chance to take first ahead of Arsenal, who lost to Manchester United on Sunday. Egurrola hit the bar in what was Everton’s only real chance of a consolation goal before Harder finished them off with a fantastic shot outside of the box into the top corner.

The story of the second half really came down to who could keep up the energy and tempo, given both teams came out aggressive. Chelsea came out on top in this battle because Hayes’ three substitutes were able to sustain the intensity of Chelsea’s high press system. On the other hand, Willie Kirk’s substitutions were unable to make a real difference to the side.

Unfortunately for Everton, this has not been the first time they’ve been unable to see out matches, with similar depth problems hurting them in their match against Manchester City in the FA Cup Final. If they want to remain competitive in this league, Kirk needs to find a way to get the most out of his players for the full 90 minutes.

Up next: Chelsea heads to North London to face Arsenal, while Everton hosts Reading.

 

WHAT’S NEXT IN THE FA WSL:
November 14th 

Manchester United vs Manchester City @ 7:30 a.m. EST

Aston Villa vs Birmingham City @ 9:30 a.m. EST

Everton vs Reading FC @ 11:30 a.m. EST

Bristol City vs Tottenham @ 1:30 p.m. EST

November 15th

West Ham vs Brighton & Hove Albion @ 7:30 a.m. EST

Arsenal vs Chelsea @ 9:30 a.m. EST

Star slugger Jocelyn Alo joins Athletes Unlimited AUX league

softball star jocelyn alo rounds the bases at an oklahoma sooners game
Former Oklahoma star Jocelyn Alo has signed with Athletes Unlimited. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

Former Oklahoma slugger Jocelyn Alo has signed on with Athletes Unlimited and will compete in the AU Pro Softball AUX this June.

The NCAA record holder in career home runs (122), total bases (761), and slugging percentage (.987), Alo was originally drafted by the league in 2022 but opted instead to join the newly debuted Women’s Professional Fastpitch

Alo currently plays for independent pro softball team Oklahoma City Spark, with team owner Tina Floyd reportedly on board with her recent AUX signing. AUX games are scheduled for June 10-25, while the Spark's season will kick off June 19th. Alo will play for both. 

Among those joining Alo on the AUX roster are former James Madison ace pitcher Odicci Alexander and former Wichita State standout middle infielder Sydney McKinney.

According to Alo, the decision to play in the Athletes Unlimited league was fueled by her desire to propel women's sports forward as well as provide more exposure to a sport that's given her "so many opportunities."

"Not only to challenge myself more, but just for the growth of the game," Alo said, explaining her reasoning to The Oklahoman. "I genuinely believe that professional softball can be a career for girls."

Joining AUX is also one more step in her plan toward representing Team USA at the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.

"I’m constantly thinking about how can I do these little things right in these four years to prepare me for the biggest stage of softball," she told The Oklahoman. "I definitely want to play in the Olympics, for sure."

Alo further expressed enthusiasm in the hope that the rise of other women’s sports, like women’s basketball and the NWSL, will push softball’s professional viability even higher.

"We’re seeing the NWSL (National Women’s Soccer League) get their stuff going, I see the WNBA starting to get hot," she continued. "I feel like the softball community is like, 'All right, it’s our turn and it’s our turn to just demand more.'"

Reporter’s awkward exchange mars Caitlin Clark’s Fever intro

caitlin clark at indiana fever press conference on april 17
An uneasy interaction between Fever recruit Caitlin Clark and a local reporter has gone viral. (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

An Indianapolis Star columnist is apologizing for an uneasy exchange with freshly minted Indiana Fever player Caitlin Clark on Wednesday.

At Clark's introductory press conference with the Fever, reporter Gregg Doyel introduced himself then abruptly formed a heart with his hands. Throughout her career with Iowa, Clark has often flashed heart hands at her family in the stands after finishing a game. The gesture has since become linked to the standout player.

But what ensued between Clark and Doyel was an incredibly awkward interaction, to say the least.

"Real quick, let me do this," Doyel said before making the heart sign at Clark. A composed Clark responded, "You like that?" After Doyel quipped, "I like that you're here," Clark dropped her eyes to the desk and said, "Yeah, I do that at my family after every game."

“OK, well start doing that to me and we’ll get along just fine,” Doyel said in response, to which Clark raised her eyebrows at the reporter, looking visibly uncomfortable. It wasn't the only unsettling comment Doyel made that day, as he later referred to Clark as "that" and "it" when directing a question to Fever coach Christie Sides. Sides appeared similarly thrown off by his choice of words.

As the clip made its way around social media, Doyel faced backlash from both sports fans and fellow members of the media. Much of the criticism centered around whether or not Doyel or another press representative would address an NBA player in the same manner. 

Doyel later apologized via a column entitled "Doyel: Caitlin Clark, I'm so sorry. On Wednesday I was part of the problem." published on the Indianapolis Star's website late Wednesday evening. Referring to his behavior at the earlier press conference, he called his comments "clumsy and awkward."

"Please know my heart (literally and figuratively) was well-intentioned. I will do better," he wrote, noting that he was "devastated to realize I’m part of the problem."

Rose Lavelle hoping to return to play ‘in the next couple of weeks’

uswnt midfielder rose lavalle trains on a soccer field in florida
When healthy, Rose Lavelle is a trusted asset in the USWNT's midfield. (Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

Rose Lavelle is hoping to return to the field soon. 

The 28-year-old midfielder has been sidelined with a lower leg injury since the Gold Cup in early march. Since then, she has yet to play for new club Gotham FC in the NWSL. She also missed a potential USWNT appearance at the SheBelieves Cup in April, where senior team newcomer Jaedyn Shaw saw success assuming Lavelle's role in the attacking midfield. 

At the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee media showcase on Monday, Lavelle told reporters that she’s doing well and hopes to be back soon.

"I’m doing good — I’m hoping I’ll be back in the next couple weeks," Lavelle said. "It’s frustrating to start the year off with an injury, just because I feel like you come off preseason and you’re revving to go, so it’s so annoying."

Lavelle is still looking to compete for one of just 18 Olympic roster spots. When healthy, she ranks as one of the national team’s most trusted assets, but considering this most recent injury, her health is an obvious concern. Faced with an onslaught of experienced competitors and young talent, incoming USWNT coach Emma Hayes will have some big decisions to make when selecting the Paris-bound squad — a reality Lavelle seems to be taking in stride as she works to regain full fitness.

"We have so many special players, we have so much depth, and so many different weapons to utilize on and off the bench," Lavelle said. "Unfortunately that means really good players are going to get left off, too. And I think for all of us, it’s just about being ready for whatever role is given to us, embracing that, and looking to put it into a collective picture so that we can go into the Olympics ready to go."

Kate Paye tapped to take VanDerveer’s place at Stanford

new stanford head coach kate paye spins a basketball on the court
Stanford associate head coach Kate Paye has officially been promoted to head women's basketball coach. (Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports)

Stanford has found its replacement for legendary head women's basketball coach Tara VanDerveer in associate head coach Kate Paye.

The Cardinal confirmed the hiring on Tuesday via a press release. Paye was largely expected to replace the longtime head coach, as the college mentioned they were still negotiating Paye's contract when they announced VanDerveer's retirement.

In Tuesday's statement, Paye reported that she was "humbled" to have been tapped to lead the women’s program.

"Stanford University has been a central part of my life for as long as I can remember and I am humbled to have the opportunity to lead its women’s basketball program," Paye said. "I’d first like to thank Tara, who has played such a pivotal role in my career for her friendship and guidance. It’s not what she’s done, but how she’s done it, that has had such a profound impact upon me."

A Woodside, California native, Paye played under VanDerveer from 1992 to 1995, taking home a national title her freshman year. After graduation, Paye briefly joined San Diego State as an assistant coach before making her professional debut with the ABL's Seattle Reign in 1996. After finishing her playing career with the WNBA's Seattle Storm, she joined the team’s coaching staff in 2007 and has been with the organization ever since, picking up another national title win — this time as associate head coach — in 2021. Paye's brother John played quarterback for Stanford from 1983 to 1986, while also serving as a point guard on the basketball team.

In her own response, VanDerveer said that she was "grateful" that Stanford picked Paye to follow in her stead. Last week, the decorated coach stated that this year would be her last after 38 seasons at the helm and three national titles under her belt.

"She has long been ready for this opportunity and is the perfect leader for Stanford at this time of immense change in college athletics," VanDerveer noted. "Kate was the choice for this job and I am confident she will achieve great success as head coach."

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