Washington Spirit kick off season with 2-0 win over Sky Blue FC

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Washington Spirit
BOYDS, MD — APRIL 13: Washington Spirit defender Samantha Sam Staab (3) celebrates with teammates around her after scoring a goal during the second half of the National Womens Soccer League (NWSL) game between Sky Blue FC and Washington Spirit April 13, 2019 at Maureen Hendricks Field at Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, MD. (Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).

Boyds, Maryland (April 14, 2019) — The Washington Spirit are putting the past behind them. After a rough 2018 season, that saw the Spirit drop to eighth place in the NWSL, the Spirit are on the road to revival.

Washington Spirit kick off season with 2-0 win over Sky Blue FC

With new head coach Richie Burke at the helm, the Washington Spirit kicked off their season against Sky Blue FC. Last year, Sky Blue was the only club that finished lower on the table than Washington. On Saturday night, Washington claimed three points to start the season with a 2-0 victory.

Burke wasted no time giving new players their entrance into league contests.

Sam Staab, Tegan McGrady and Jordan DiBiasi were recently selected in the NWSL College Draft in January. Last night, they made their professional debuts, starting for the Spirit. Staab scored the first goal of the 2019 season in the 59th minute.

However, it wasn’t just the rookies making strides for Washington. New players also got into the mix. Megan Crosson spent her first two seasons in the NWSL with the Houston Dash. Last August, Crosson joined the the Spirit as an international replacement player, making one appearance.

This past offseason, she was signed a first-team contract with Washington. Her work during the offseason was show cased in stoppage time of the second half, when she scored off a header. Mallory Pugh assisted the goal.

Meanwhile, Sky Blue FC had a couple chances, including a header that smacked off the crossbar for Carli Lloyd in the first half. Lloyd also had another shot on goal, but it was saved by Aubrey Bledsoe. Sky Blue FC rookie Paige Monaghan earned a shot on target in her NWSL debut, but Bledsoe recorded her second save.

In the opposite goal, Kailen Sheridan was busy in her Sky Blue FC net. Sheridan made three saves against Ashley Hatch, Cheyna Matthews and Meggie Dougherty-Howard.

Three Takeaways

  1. Cheyna Matthews makes a big return: After missing last season due to maternity leave and the birth of her son Josiah, Cheyna Matthews made her long-awaited return to the Washington Spirit. Matthews can certainly be a great leadership presence for a young team. She might be heading to the World Cup this summer with Jamaica, but for now she poises a veteran presence.
  2. No Rose Lavelle once again: Washington has a great player on their hand in Rose Lavelle. Pairing her up together with Mallory Pugh, Ashley Hatch and Cheyna Matthews could be an incredible partnership. However, the problem is that Lavelle has a problem staying healthy. She recently suffered any injury during international duty with the U.S. Women’s National Team. If Lavelle can stay healthy, this team could have a major boost. However, it’s an unknown factor if she can do that.
  3. Give Rocky the ball: Raquel Rodriguez — who commonly goes by “Rocky Rodriguez” — was everywhere on the pitch. She’s one of the most talented strikers in the league and it’s unfortunate that she and Costa Rica won’t be at the World Cup this summer. However, Lloyd will likely be there for the United States. Rodriguez will get the ball more in the summer, but it should start now.

What’s Next?

  • Washington: The Spirit will take a trip west to face the Utah Royals at the Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday night. The match will begin at 9 p.m. ET. Utah has yet to feature this season, since there are nine clubs in the league and only eight play each week.
  • Sky Blue FC: The New Jersey-based club will compete in their home opener on Saturday at Yurcak Field. At 6 p.m. ET the Houston Dash and Sky Blue will face off.

 

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