Photo credit: Robyn McNeil/ISI Photos
BOYDS, Md (July 29, 2016) – After two weeks on the road, the Washington Spirit (8-3-2, 26 points) will return home Saturday, July 30 to take on Sky Blue FC (6-4-4, 22 points) at 7 p.m. The Spirit and Sky Blue have had an intense regional rivalry throughout this season. The game will be the final of four matches between the two teams. The Spirit started strong in the series, beating Sky Blue on the road. However, the team will seek redemption after losing the last two matchups.
“Saturday’s home match against Sky Blue is an important one,” said Spirit general manager and head coach Jim Gabarra. “We need to regain our level of play and execute the game plan in order to earn the 3 points. Everyone is looking forward to again playing in front of our incredible fans at the Maryland SoccerPlex.”
In the first meeting between the two teams, the Spirit secured the 2-1 win over Sky Blue with a lofted shot into the upper ninety from Ali Krieger and a nutmeg goal from Diana Matheson. Offensive force Maya Hayes scored for Sky Blue early in the second half with a powered shot from the top of the box, however Sky Blue was unable to capitalize again to tie the score.
In the last meeting, the Spirit fell in a suspenseful and close match. English international and Sky Blue rookie Leah Galton scored the sole goal in the 24th minute after defeating Spirit defenders with her incredible speed and placing the ball into the back of the net past the extended arms of Spirit goalkeeper Kelsey Wys.
The upcoming match between the two teams will provide another chance for the depth of the Spirit’s frontline to shine. Argentinian forward Estefania Banini had a very successful week two weeks ago, receiving both NWSL Player of the Week and NWSL Goal of the Week awards. Rookie forward Cheyna Williams has started the last two matches and created dangerous opportunities with her speed. No matter who Gabarra decides to give a starting position to on Saturday, the depth of the Spirit bench will be equally as impressive. Forward Katie Stengel has scored two goals this season after being subbed into the game, including one on the first touch.
Despite the skill, speed, and agility of the Spirit’s offense, Sky Blue’s defense will provide a challenge. Anchored by USWNT and NWSL veteran and captain Christie Rampone and Sky Blue rookie Erica Skroski, the team’s defense has earned three shutouts in the last six games and has won its last three consecutive matches.
The Spirit’s newest signing, Danish international Line Sigvardsen Jensen, will be available for selection for the first time.
The match will be livestreamed on YouTube: https://youtu.be/SR43pGcthU4
After this weekend, the NWSL will take a break for the Olympics. The Spirit’s next match will be August 18th in Houston against the Houston Dash. The Spirit returns home to the Maryland SoccerPlex on Saturday September 3rd to take on Western New York Flash. Fans can purchase tickets at tickets.washingtonspirit.com.