Hope Solo knew what was coming and still couldn't stop it.
Casey Nogueira's 59th-minute goal gave the Chicago Red Stars a 1-1 tie against St. Louis Athletica in their home opener before 5,134 fans Saturday night at Toyota Park.
"I knew exactly what she was going to do because that's her shot," the St. Louis goalkeeper said, allowing herself a small smile at the memory. "Playing with her on the national team, that's her shot, and she's better than anyone I know at that kind of bent ball to the far post."
Nogueira, a rookie from North Carolina, took the shot calmly, putting it just where Solo couldn't reach it.
"I wasn't really thinking while it was going on," Nogueira said. "I just kind of shot it."
Nogueira's goal was a godsend for the Red Stars, who desperately didn't want to be shut out in their first two games of the season. Nogueira entered the game at halftime as coach Emma Hayes used all three of her subs to boost the club's attack.
"Goals are crucial. I'm not waiting 451 minutes again," Hayes said, referring to a team scoring drought last season.
Nogueira had a chance to win the game with a similar shot in the 90th minute as Solo scrambled to get back to her net.
"That was a sitter and I should have just placed it," she said, "and I blasted it and it went right over."
Athletica scored on the Red Stars (0-1-1, 1 point) in the third minute. Red Stars goalkeeper Jillian Loyden saved a Tina DiMartino shot but gave up a rebound, and Lori Chalupny was right there to give St. Louis the quick lead.
"It took us a long time to get going tonight," Hayes said. "It wasn't until the second half that I thought we asserted ourselves and started to dominate with more one- and two-touch play. We were probably unlucky not to win it in the end."
The Red Stars saw signs of hope just in earning the draw.
"It proved a lot of our character tonight," Loyden said. "We could have just sat back said they're winning and we're making mistakes, but we didn't. We worked together as a team and we came back."