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Inaugural W League Match Report: McCarthy leads Indy to opening night victory

By Staff, 05/07/22, 8:08AM EDT


BYU product scores twice, including first goal in W League history, in 3-1 win against Kings Hammer FC

Indy Eleven claimed a 3-1 victory against Kings Hammer FC in the inaugural game of the 2022 USL W League season on Friday night as Rachel McCarthy scored twice for the hosts. | Photo courtesy Matt Schlotzhauer / Indy Eleven

WESTFIELD, Ind. – The inaugural 2022 USL W League season kicked off on Friday night as Indy Eleven claimed a 3-1 victory against Kings Hammer FC, with the new league welcomed by a sellout crowd led by Indy supporters group the Brickyard Battalion at the Grand Park Events Center.

Rachel McCarthy scored a pair of goals – including the first in league history – to lead Indy to all three points in the Great Lakes Division, while Katie Soderstrom found the net with 12 minutes to go to put the game away for the hosts.

Indy almost began the game with a bang – after just 12 seconds the first attack of the game led to the first scoring chance as Kristina Lynch’s shot from the edge of the penalty area rose inches over the crossbar. Kings Hammer’s early pressure resulted in an even start, but the hosts took the lead in the ninth minute as after Soderstrom had a chance blocked at the top of the penalty area the ball deflected into the path of McCarthy, who fired home first time into the left corner of the net.

McCarthy struck again eight minutes later when Maddy Williams knifed past her marker on the right side before centering for the BYU product to fire home a first-time shot from the penalty spot into the roof of the net. 

Kings Hammer continued to apply pressure as the first half continued, and it paid off five minutes before halftime with another fine finish as Mandy Schlueter delivered a sparkling individual goal, cutting back onto her left foot 20 yards from goal to gain space before bending a superb finish into the upper right corner to make it a one-goal game at the break.

The tempo eased somewhat in the second half, but Indy continued to have the better of the chances as the hosts looked to add to their lead. Molly McLaughlin and Williams both went close around the hour-mark, and halftime substitute Selena Barnett added a spark for the Girls in Blue down the right flank. Barnett’s persistence paid 12 minutes from time when she delivered a near-post cross for Soderstrom, who held off a defender inside the six-yard area before finishing from a narrow angle.

Indy goalkeeper Mackenzie Wood took over from there, making several saves across the final 10 minutes. The pick of the night came with four minutes to go as Wood made a fingertip save to deny Kings Hammer’s Emma Schmelzer, and from there the hosts saw out the win, setting the tone for the season on a memorable night for soccer in Indiana.

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