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Boyds, Md., (7/9/20) – The Washington Spirit have shown that investing in young players does pay off. In the first three games of the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup, that is reflected no clearer than in the play of defender Sam Staab, who’s become one of the Spirit’s stars after just one year with the team.
The 23-year-old center back, who was just a rookie last season, has proved to be indispensable for the Spirit during the Challenge Cup. Staab has gone three matches without committing a foul while earning an 86.2% passing accuracy rate in the defensive half, 13 clearances, four interceptions, two blocks, making two key passes and scoring one goal.
Staab’s goal came at the end of a tight match against the Portland Thorns last Sunday. The defender rose above her marker in the penalty area to finish a header to equalize the score 1-1, allowing the Spirit to walk away with a point.
Back heel flick from @ashleynsanchezz ✅
Equalizer from @SamStaab_ ✅pic.twitter.com/jPXSsTeQIu
— Washington Spirit (@WashSpirit) July 6, 2020
Consistency has been a key factor in Staab’s success during this tournament, as she is always among the top four players to have the most touches and passes per game for the Spirit. Moreover, the centerback has won over half of all her duels against her opponents, winning six of the ten she has faced.
Through her career so far, Staab has not only been a vital piece in the Spirit defense but also a large part in initiating the Spirit offense as well, recording an average of 42.7 passes per game with an 80.5% overall successful passing rate. Additionally, during her 2019 campaign, Staab recorded 11 key passes, including one assist.
Staab has accumulated up these numbers in 270 minutes played over eight days against the top three teams from the 2019 NWSL season, North Carolina Courage, Chicago Red Stars and Portland Thorns after not playing for three months due to quarantine.
Racking up the maximum amount of minutes is nothing new for the center back from Clemson, since she was the only Spirit player to play every minute of every game in the 2019 National Women’s Soccer League season.
Staab and the Spirit will play their last match before qualifiers on Sunday, July 12, against the Houston Dash. Kickoff is set for 12:30 p.m. ET at the Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman, Utah.