Boyds, MD (April 15, 2017) – The Washington Spirit dropped a 1-0 decision to the North Carolina Courage on Saturday afternoon in front of 2,407 fans at Maureen Hendricks Field, as a 19th minute goal by McCall Zerboni on an assist from Makenzy Doniak proved to be the difference on opening day of the 2017 National Women’s Soccer League regular season.
Washington goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé racked up eight saves in the loss, several of which came in challenging 1v1 situations from inside the box. The Canadian international and 2016 Rio Olympic bronze medalist was simply dominant in the second half, denying a flurry of shots from reigning MVP Lynn Williams, 2016 Best XI forward Jessica McDonald and offseason acquisition Debinha.
“To only concede one goal says a lot about [Labbé’s] performance as a shot stopper,” said Spirit head coach Jim Gabarra. “We’d like to have her get a lot less work in most games, but [the Courage] are one of the top attacking teams in the league. Overall I thought she saved us on numerous occasions.”
North Carolina’s prolific attack piled up 21 total shots on the afternoon, nine of which were on target. The Spirit recorded four total shots, none on target.
Washington came closest to equalizing in the 63rd minute when Tori Huster sent a pass down the field to Katie Stengel, who beat her defender but missed wide right as her momentum carried her toward the endline.
The Spirit will continue play next Saturday, April 22 as they visit the Orlando Pride in the NWSL Game of the Week on Lifetime. Kickoff is set for 4:00 p.m. ET.
Washington returns to Maureen Hendricks Field on April 29 for a match against the Houston Dash (7 p.m ET). [Tickets]
Tickets for all Spirit home matches are available now at https://tickets.washingtonspirit.com/
Washington Spirit: Stephanie Labbé; Kassey Kallman, Shelina Zadorsky (c), Whitney Church, Estelle Johnson; Kristie Mewis, Joanna Lohman (Line Sigvardsen Jensen,26’), Tori Huster; Arielle Ship (Havana Solaun, 66’), Katie Stengel, Cheyna Williams (Francisca Ordega, 38’)
Subs not used: Cameron Castleberry, Meggie Dougherty Howard, DiDi Haracic, Alyssa Kleiner
NC Courage: Sabrina D’Angelo; Jaelene Hinkle, Yuri Kawamura, Abby Dahlkemper, Sam Witteman (Taylor Smith, 67’); Debinha, Sam Mewis, McCall Zerboni, Makenzy Doniak (Elizabeth Eddy, 67′, Kristen Hamilton, 78’); Jessica McDonald, Lynn Williams.
Subs not used: Katelyn Rowland, Rosana, Ashley Hatch, Courtney Niemec
Score: WAS: 0 | NCC: 1
NCC: McCall Zerboni (Makenzy Doniak, 19’)
WAS: Kristie Mewis (28’), Shelina Zadorsky (82’)
NCC: McCall Zerboni (70’)