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Photo: Tony Quinn / ISI Photos
BOYDS, Md (June 17, 2016) – The Washington Spirit (4-1-2, 14 points) will take on the Orlando Pride (4-4-0, 12 points) at home on Saturday, June 18th at 7pm at Maureen Hendricks Field. This is the first ever match between the two teams as Orlando is currently in its inaugural season. The teams will meet in front of a sold out crowd in the first home match for the Spirit in over a month.
The Washington Spirit is undefeated at home this season after wins over Boston Breakers and Houston Dash and a draw with the Portland Thorns. Both wins came courtesy of goals from midfielder Joanna Lohman. In the 3rd minute against Boston, Lohman executed a bicycle kick that was what she later called one of the best goals of her career. Against Houston, Lohman once again displayed her aerial prowess with a header in the 38th minute off a cross from fellow midfielder Christine Nairn.
“We will need to continue to build on our performances as Orlando presents a huge challenge,” said Spirit general manager and head coach Jim Gabarra. “After a long road stretch, it will be good to get our rhythm back and play at the Maryland SoccerPlex again.”
Gabarra will have plenty of attacking options to choose from on Saturday. Like Lohman, midfielder Diana Matheson has three goals so far this season. Rookies Cali Farquharson and Cheyna Williams have brought speed to the front line, and Francisca Ordega looked dangerous when she earned her first minutes of the season against Boston last weekend. Although 2015 NWSL Golden Boot winner Crystal Dunn has yet to find the back of the net this season, she has heavily contributed as a playmaker earning four assists, which is the most assists she has made in any NWSL season.
Orlando Pride surprised some by coming out strong in the beginning of its inaugural season. However, they have been disappointed as of late with two road losses in a row in their last two matches and will be looking to turn that around. Despite the setback, the team is currently in fifth place in the NWSL standings, but with teams tightly bunched at the top, the Pride is only three points out of first place. The Pride relies heavily on former Spirit goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris to secure the defense and will look to forward Alex Morgan and midfielder Lianne Sanderson, who have two goals apiece on the season, to produce offense. In its first match since the tragedy that occurred last weekend, the Pride will have extra motivation to bring a win home to Orlando.
Although the teams will be competing against each other on the field, they will stand together to support the city of Orlando following the tragedy last weekend. The Spirit, along with all NWSL matches this weekend, will begin their tribute with a moment of silence following the player introductions. All fans who are able will be asked to stand and clap for the entirety of the 49th minute (48:00 – 48:59 on the game clock).
The two teams currently sit level in the NWSL standings. The Spirit is in fourth place with 14 points. The Pride is right behind in fifth place with 12 points, so a win would propel the Pride above the Spirit in the standings. However, the Spirit has a game in hand due to an inclement weather postponement in Houston which has now been rescheduled for August, allowing for a potential rise in rank toward the end of the season. All of the teams are currently chasing the first place Chicago Red Stars with 15 points.
The game will be streamed live on YouTube beginning at 7:00 pm ET: https://youtu.be/l81hnOavtwA
Next weekend, the Spirit will play Sky Blue FC at home at 7pm at Maureen Hendricks Field in the second game of a four game home stretch. Fans can be part of the NWSL soccer experience at perfectly manicured natural grass Maureen Hendricks Field by calling 301-337-8579 or visiting our website.