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Boyds, MD (March 30, 2018) – The Washington Spirit will host the Orlando Pride on Saturday in the club’s 2018 National Women’s Soccer League home opener at the Maryland SoccerPlex. National television coverage for the NWSL Game of the Week on Lifetime will begin at 3:30 p.m. ET, and kickoff is set for 3:50. [TICKETS]
Saturday’s home-opener will be the first of three meetings between Washington and Orlando this season, two of which will be played at the Maryland Soccerplex. Both sides will be looking for their first win of 2018, as Washington fell 2-1 on the road to Seattle Reign FC in their season opener on March 24, and Orlando played Utah Royals FC to a 1-1 draw.
During the club’s season opener in Seattle, the Spirit fell behind 2-0 in the first half, but went on to record seven shots on goal, while holding over 55 percent of the possession time in the second half. Midfielder Joanna Lohman netted Washington’s first goal of the season in the 68th minute in her first game back from an ACL injury sustained in the Spirit’s 2017 regular season opener last April.
“We’re looking to build off the second half in Seattle, where I thought we were a lot better,” said Spirit Head Coach and General Manager Jim Gabarra. “We’ve been really happy with the week of training, and we’re looking forward to getting out to the SoccerPlex in front of the Spirit Squadron.”
Saturday’s game is expected to be the home debut for 2018 NWSL College Draft No. 1 overall pick and U.S. international midfielder Andi Sullivan, who played the full 90 minutes during her professional debut on March 24 in a road game against Seattle Reign FC.
Canadian international defender/midfielder Rebecca Quinn, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2018 NWSL College Draft, is expected to make her pro debut during Saturday’s home opener.
Two more U.S. internationals, defender Taylor Smith and forward Ashley Hatch, each played the full 90 minutes in their Spirit debuts last weekend in Seattle, and will suit up Saturday for their first home game at the SoccerPlex.
Goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe, who racked up 10 saves in her Spirit debut, will go up against her former team for the first time, after being traded to Washington in the offseason.
Washington will be without forward/midfielder Estefania Banini, who recorded the club’s first assist of the 2018 season last week in Seattle. Banini (Argentina) and forward/midfielder Yanara Aedo (Chile) will both miss the game for international duty. The Spirit signed rookie forward Mallory Eubanks – a second round pick in the 2018 NWSL College Draft – as a National Team Replacement Player this week.
Meanwhile, Orlando’s Alanna Kennedy (Australia), Marta (Brazil), Monica (Brazil), Poliana (Brazil) and Emily van Egmond (Australia) are also out this weekend for international duty. The Pride announced three National Team Replacement Player signings this week: midfielders Abby Elinsky and Christine Creighton, and forward Nádia Gomes.
The Spirit and Pride will go head-to-head Saturday in the first of three NWSL Game of the Week on Lifetime matches being played at the Maryland SoccerPlex this season. The nationally televised match-up between Washington and Orlando at the SoccerPlex sold out in 2017, and this Saturday is expected to feature another packed house at the SoccerPlex’s Maureen Hendricks Field.
Single game tickets for the Spirit’s regular season home games, including their March 31 home opener against the Orlando Pride, are available now at Tickets.WashingtonSpirit.com or by calling the club’s ticket office at 301-591-0927.