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Piscataway, N.J. (September 10, 2017) – The Washington Spirit stormed back from a 1-0 deficit with a pair of goals late in the second half to secure a 2-1 road win over Sky Blue FC on Sunday evening at Yurcak Field.
After Sky Blue’s Maya Hayes netted a goal in the closing minutes of the first half, Washington put two across in the final 15 minutes of the second half, on a 75th minute header by Whitney Church and a long range strike by U.S. international Mallory Pugh for the game-winner in the 85th minute.
“It was an incredible performance by every single player that stepped on the field today,” said Spirit head coach and general manager Jim Gabarra. “I couldn’t be prouder that everyone executed their roles in the game plan. There were so many excellent performances across the board. It was a true team effort and team victory.”
Both teams’ defenses held strong for the first 40 minutes of action, until Hayes put the home side up 1-0 in the 43rd minute to send Sky Blue into halftime holding the lead. Following a big save by Spirit goalkeeper DiDi Haracic on a shot by Sky Blue’s Sam Kerr, and then two more blocked shots off the foot of Kerr, the ball fell to the feet of Hayes, who slotted a left-footed shot into the top left corner of the net.
After a long stretch of defensive dominance well into the second half, Church scored her first goal of the season to equalize for the Spirit, heading home a corner kick sent in by Canadian international Shelina Zadorsky. Church struck her header directly off the cross, powering the shot just inside the left post. [WATCH]
Ten minutes later, Pugh notched the first game-winning goal of her career, striking a right-footed shot from outside the box into the bottom left corner of the net. Fellow rookie Lindsay Agnew recorder her first career assist on the play, setting up Pugh’s fourth goal of the season with a short, quick pass on a run up the middle. [WATCH]
The Spirit were able to preserve the lead on a wild final sequence in stoppage time, as Sky Blue attempted three shots within a 10 second span, but Church made a key block and Haracic secured back-to-back saves. [WATCH]
Haracic recorded a career high seven saves in the victory, while Zadorsky, Church, Caprice Dydasco and Kassey Kallman all played the full 90 minutes on the Spirit back line. Zadorksy led all players for both teams with 10 clearances, while Church had game-highs in interceptions with seven and in blocked shots with three. Kallman led the Spirit with three tackles.
Rookie midfielder Meggie Dougherty Howard had a team-high 55 total passes, 40 of which came on the attacking side of the field. In her first start as a member of the Spirit, Morgan Proffitt finished second on the team with 45 total passes.
With the win, Washington completed a season sweep of Sky Blue FC, winning all three match-ups against the New Jersey side.
The Spirit will return home to the Maryland SoccerPlex for its final two games of the 2017 NWSL season on September 23 against the Boston Breakers, and on September 30 against Seattle Reign FC. Tickets to both games are available for one price, starting as low as $40 with the Spirit’s September Ticket Package. [TICKETS]
NWSL MATCH REPORT
MATCH: Washington Spirit at Sky Blue FC
DATE:September 10, 2017
VENUE: Yurcak Field – Piscataway, N.J.
KICKOFF: 6:00 p.m. ET
WEATHER: Low 60s, clear
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
NJ 1 0 1
WAS 0 2 2
NJ – Maya Hayes 43’
WAS – Whitney Church (Shelina Zadorsky) 75’
WAS – Mallory Pugh (Lindsay Agnew) 85’
Sky Blue FC Lineup: 1-Kailen Sheridan; 8-Erica Skroski, 17-Dominique Richardson, 22-Mandy Freeman, 19-Kelley O’Hara, 16-Sarah Killion, 6-Taylor Lytle, 73-Madison Tiernan (11-Raquel Rodríguez, 76’), 7-Nikki Stanton, 20-Sam Kerr (c), 5-Maya Hayes (10-Daphne Corboz, 67’)
Substitutes Not Used: 15-Kayla Mills, 2-McKenzie Meehan, 27-Caroline Casey, 4-Cassidy Benintente
Head Coach: David Hodgson
Washington Spirit Lineup: 21-DiDi Haracic; 6-Kassey Kallman, 3-Caprice Dydasco, 5-Whitney Church, 4-Shelina Zadorsky (c), 29-Meggie Dougherty Howard, 22-Alyssa Kleiner, 12-Morgan Proffitt, 20-Cheyna Williams (17-Cali Farquharson, 71’); 8-Lindsay Agnew (23-Tori Huster, 86’), 9-Havana Solaun (11-Mallory Pugh, 62’)
Substitutes Not Used: 18-Kelsey Wys
Head Coach: Jim Gabarra
Stats Summary: NJ / WAS
Shots on Goal: 9/5
Corner Kicks: 2/4
Referee: Rebecca Pagan
Asst. Referee: Tom Felice, Ian McKay
4th Official: Jared Simons