Vanessa DiBernardo, drafted fourth overall by the Red Stars in 2014, often has been described by her teammates as an anchor on a team filled with dependable leadership.
On Sunday, she made history, playing her 10,000th minute for the Red Stars in front of 3,301 fans. She became the first player in the club’s history to reach that milestone and the sixth player in NWSL history to play 10,000 minutes with one team.
“In professional sports these days, you don’t have people that stick with the same place for seven, eight or nine years,” Red Stars coach Rory Dames said. “It’s a compliment to her and her durability. It’s great for the club, and it’s great for the city because she’s one of our own.”
The Red Stars, who came into the game in fifth place, got their third consecutive win, beating OL Reign 3-1 to move into first, pending the late game between the Thorns and Pride.
OL Reign took an early lead after Bethany Balcer scored on a cross from Celia Jimenez in the 12th minute. It was Balcer’s third goal in two games for OL Reign.
In the 48th minute, Jimenez scored an own goal. The Red Stars took the lead on another own goal — the fifth in their favor this season, an NWSL record — in the 55th minute by Alana Cook, and Mallory Pugh scored in the 64th minute. The assist came from Kealia Watt, who notched 10,000 minutes in the NWSL during the game.
Pugh thought the second own goal actually was scored by Tatumn Milazzo and hopes that will be recognized. Dames is going to request a review.
Goalkeeper Cassie Miller, who got the starting nod in the absence of Alyssa Naeher, came up with an excellent save in stoppage time. The Reign had 10 shots, three on goal.
“This year, [the standings are] going to be super-tight,” DiBernardo said. “We’re excited to be [in first place], but we know it’s going to take a lot to stay there.”