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Spirit Defeats Sky Blue 3-1 to Remain Tied at the Top of the NWSL Table

Photo Credit: Nicole Gamard/ISI Photos

BOYDS, Md. (July 31, 2016) – First-half goals from midfielder Estefania Banini and forward Cheyna Williams and a second half goal in stoppage time from defender Alyssa Kleiner led the Washington Spirit (9-3-2, 29 points) to a 3-1 win over Sky Blue FC (6-5-4, 22 points) Sunday afternoon at Maryland SoccerPlex. Forward Tasha Kai scored for Sky Blue early in the first half, but it was not enough to earn Sky Blue the three points. The win today for the Spirit came at the end of a four game series between the two teams, each team winning twice and losing twice. The game was pushed to Sunday after heavy rain and thunderstorms Saturday night.

Banini opened the scoring in the 27th minute with a first-time shot from the top of the box past a diving Caroline Casey. The goal was set up when midfielder Joanna Lohman received a pass from forward Katie Stengel in the box and flicked the ball with the outside of her foot for the Argentine to run on to finish. Banini now leads the team with five goals in 2016.

Tasha Kai equalized for Sky Blue just moments after a heat-induced water break, pouncing on a loose ball in the attacking third and finishing past a charging Kelsey Wys in the 33rd minute.

Williams put the Spirit back up before halftime with her first professional goal in the 39th minute. The forward controlled a Caprice Dydasco cross, turned with a defender on her shoulder, and placed a finish to the far post.

Wys made two big saves midway through the second half to keep the score at 2-1. Sky Blue forward Maya Hayes played Kai a through ball into the box, where Kai shot to Wys’s right. Wys had already dove to her left, but was able to get a foot on the ball and kick it clear. Moments later Wys stopped Kai again, this time from point-blank range at the penalty spot.

Substitute defender Kleiner put the game out of reach in stoppage time with her first career goal. After a scramble in front of the net, the ball fell to the feet of Kleiner at the top of the box and she hit a half-volley to the top right corner.

Washington and Sky Blue split the season series, with each side winning twice. The Spirit’s 29 points keep the team tied atop the National Women’s Soccer League table with the Portland Thorns. The Spirit has played one less match this season than its Pacific Northwest rival.

The Spirit returns to action Aug. 18, playing the Houston Dash on the road. After an Aug. 26 fixture at the Orlando Pride, Washington hosts the Western New York Flash at the Maryland SoccerPlex Sept. 3. For tickets, please go to our website.

NWSL Match Report

Match: Washington Spirit vs. Sky Blue FC
Date: July 31, 2016
Venue: Maryland SoccerPlex, MD
Kickoff: 11 a.m. ET
Attendance: 2,930
Weather: 77, mostly cloudy

Washington Spirit Lineup: 18 Kelsey Wys; 3- Caprice Dydasco, 24- Estelle Johnson, 4 – Megan Oyster, 5- Whitney Church; 23- Tori Huster, 7-Christine Nairn (22- Alyssa Kleiner 89′), 15- Joanna Lohman; 10- Estefania Banini, 12- Katie Stengel (14- Francisca Ordega 80′), 20- Cheyna Williams (17- Cali Farquharson 66′)

Subs not used: 21- Alli Murphy, 27- Line Sigvardsen Jensen, 36- DiDi Haracic
Head Coach: Jim Gabarra

Sky Blue Lineup: 27- Caroline Casey; 33- Erin Simon, 13- Kristin Grubka, 3- Christie Rampone, 8- Erica Skroski; 7- Nikki Stanton (26- Domi Richardson 56′), 6- Taylor Lytle 11- Raquel Rodriguez, 29- Catherine Zimmerman (5- Maya Hayes 32′); 21- Leah Galton, 32- Tasha Kai (Kelly Conheeney 77′)

Subs not used: 1- Jill Loyden, 15- Coco Goodson, 16- Sarah Killion
Head Coach: Christy Holly

Team 1 2 Final
Washington Spirit  2  1  3
Sky Blue FC  1  0  1

Joanna Lohman

SCORING SUMMARY
Goal Time Team Goal Scorer Assist
 1 27 Washington Estefania Banini  Joanna Lohman
 2 33 Sky Blue FC Tasha Kai
 3 39 Washington Cheyna Williams Caprice Dydasco
 4  90+ Washington Alyssa Kleiner
CAUTIONS AND EJECTIONS
Time Team ## Player Card Reason

Stats Summary: WAS/NJ
Shots: 14 / 10
Shots on Goal: 7 / 5
Saves: 4 / 4
Corner Kicks: 10 / 3
Fouls: 7 / 11
Offside: 4/ 1

Officials:
Referee: Victor Rivas
Assistant Referee 1: Gary Gutierrez
Assistant Referee 2: Michael D’Angelo
4th Official: Rebekah Friedrich