Undefeated Spirit sign King, chasing top spot Saturday

Washington Spirit  |   April 26, 2013
Undefeated Spirit sign King, chasing top spot Saturday Featured Image

Spirit forward Stephanie Ochs gets off a cross as Spirit Hill fans look on

After the excitement brought by the kickoff of a new league and the home opener, the Washington Spirit are settling into their National Women’s Soccer League season. And when they host Sky Blue FC on Saturday night, it will be for a chance to solidify their spot near the top of the NWSL standings.

After two draws to start the season, the Spirit sit in third place, two points behind leaders Portland Thorns FC and one behind Sky Blue FC, whom they’ll face at 7 p.m. at the Maryland SoccerPlex. With a win and a Portland tie or loss against the Chicago Red Stars, the Spirit would clinch at least a share of the top spot.

“Our first two games brought some positive moments and gave us plenty to build on, and we’re excited for the chance to keep that momentum going,” Spirit head coach Mike Jorden said. “Sky Blue FC will give us a challenge at home, and we’ll be looking to put in another strong performance in front of our fans.”

Tickets are available through washingtonspirit.com/tickets, and fans will once again be able to enjoy the Beer Garden, with gates opening 90 minutes before kickoff. Those unable to make it to the match can watch the action live from the team’s website.

Last time out, the Spirit took on the Western New York Flash in front of a capacity crowd and came away with a 1-1 draw after Diana Matheson’s penalty kick in the 86th minute. It was a similar result to the season opener in Boston, where Tiffany McCarty opened the scoring for the Spirit before the Breakers notched an equalizer in stoppage time.

Meanwhile, Sky Blue FC has only taken the field once, earning the first victory in NWSL history by toppling the Flash 1-0 on an own goal. SBFC goalkeeper Brittany Cameron, who’s filling in for injured U.S. keeper Jill Loyden (wrist), had a breakout performance in that win, being voted NWSL Player of the Week by the media after holding the Flash scoreless despite facing 16 shots (six on goal) and a penalty kick.

Sky Blue FC will also lean on the veteran leadership of U.S. captain Christie Rampone on the back line, while fellow national teamer Kelley O’Hara provides versatility at both fullback and forward. Lisa De Vanna is also a player to watch up top, as the Australian returns to the SoccerPlex for the first time since suiting up for former tenants Washington Freedom.

The Spirit will counter with in-form players of their own, including goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris – voted the Week Two MVP by fans through NWSLNews.com – and Tori Huster, who has adjusted quickly to her new role as a defender.

Aside from the chance to keep climbing up the league table, Saturday’s match will also be the debut of the Spirit’s jersey sponsor, as they’ll wear the logo of ProChain Solutions, Inc., a project management solutions company headquartered in the D.C. area co-founded by Spirit team owner Bill Lynch.

Washington Spirit vs. Sky Blue FC
Maryland SoccerPlex | Kickoff 7 p.m. | Gates 5:30 p.m.   
18031 Central Park Circle, Boyds MD 20841
https://tickets.washingtonspirit.com until 5:00 p.m., then box office  

Team/Game Notes:

  • 3rd round college draft pick Holly King (Florida / Broad Run H.S.) has been added to the roster this week and will be available for Saturday’s game, wearing #20.
  • The story around Canadian internationals Diana Matheson and Robyn Gayle living in a local retirement community is growing, with major print coverage this past week in the Washington Post spurring international media interest.
  • Midfielder/Forward Colleen Williams and Defender Candace Chapman are both making progress on their injury and surgery recovery respectively, but doubtful to appear this weekend.
  • Ticket sales for the 4,500-capacity Maryland SoccerPlex Stadium have surpassed 2,500, with the middle value “Home Side GA” section completely sold out, with a few remaining VIP Reserved seats and the remaining “Away Side and Hill GA”.
  • Saturday’s game is the first of two planned “WAGS Sportsmanship Nights”, where teams from the enormous local travel soccer league will be recognized for topping their Fall 2012 divisions in the “fair play” category.
  • U.S. International Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris has challenged fans to make a great sign for the game. She will pick her favorite before the end of the game, with the winner receiving an autographed pair of her NIKE game-work goalkeeper gloves. Harris and team officials only ask fans to be respectful of others lines of sight and that the language on the sign contents be done in good taste.
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