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Photo: Brad Smith/ISI Photos
BOYDS, Md (Apr. 21, 2016) – The Washington Spirit (1-0-0, 3 points) will play its first of four matches against Sky Blue FC (1-0-0, 3 points) on Sunday, April 24th at Yurcak Field at 6 p.m. Both teams won their opening games of the 2016 National Women’s Soccer League season. The match between the regional rivals will be the first of two consecutive games on the road for the Spirit.
Spirit general manager and head coach Jim Gabarra is familiar with Sky Blue FC, having been their head coach for the first three seasons of the NWSL. “Sky Blue is coming off a well-deserved away win,” said Gabarra about his former club. “It certainly will be a difficult match for us. We need to set a high standard for our first away match of the season.”
Last weekend, the Spirit started the season with a 1-0 win over the Boston Breakers. In the third minute, midfielder Joanna Lohman executed a bicycle kick, assisted by fiery forward Crystal Dunn, which ended up being the game winner.
The last time the Spirit traveled to New Jersey, a brace from Dunn and a goal from Christine Nairn gave the Spirit a 3-1 victory. With these two attacking options plus new number 9 Katie Stengel, 2016 NWSL College Draft picks Cali Farquharson and Cheyna Williams, and the bicycle kick hero of the Spirit’s home opener Lohman, goals could come from a multitude of players. Defensively, Canadians Shelina Zadorsky and Stephanie Labbé both made their first appearances for the Spirit in the match against Boston. Goalkeeper Labbé recorded a clean sheet, while center back Zadorsky paired with one of last season’s most impressive rookies, Megan Oyster, to form a promising partnership in the back line.
Sky Blue FC started off its season with an upset in Seattle, being the first team to defeat the Reign at Memorial Stadium in NWSL history. The first goal of the night for Sky Blue came from forward and Olympic gold medalist Tasha Kai, marking a successful debut in her return to the professional game. United States Women’s National Team player Kelley O’Hara assisted the goal. Midfielder Kelly Conheeny, who was invited to preseason camp and picked up by Sky Blue after a strong performance at the team’s open tryout, delivered the winning strike. Sky Blue’s roster also includes USWNT veteran defender Christie Rampone and 2015 MAC Hermann trophy winner Raquel Rodriguez.
Next week the Spirit continues its road trip as the team faces Western New York Flash on Friday, April 29th at 7 p.m. The Spirit’s next match at home will be Saturday, May 7th at 7 p.m. against Portland Thorns FC. Be part of the NWSL soccer experience by calling 301-337-8579 or visiting our website.