Spirit face Sky Blue in the quarterfinals of the NWSL Challenge Cup

Washington Spirit  |   July 17, 2020
Spirit face Sky Blue in the quarterfinals of the NWSL Challenge Cup Featured Image

Washington Spirit celebrates

Alejandra Martin

Boyds, Md. (7/17/20) – The Washington Spirit will face Sky Blue FC in the quarterfinals of the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup on July 18 at 12:30 pm ET at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman, UT. The game will be streamed live on CBS All-Access.

During the 2019 NWSL season, the results between the Spirit and Sky Blue all favored the Spirit, as they won all three fixtures. Washington is headed into the quarterfinals as the number two seed, while Sky Blue are number seven. This is where the competition truly begins, as every game from here on out is win or go home.

The Opposition

Sky Blue wrapped the preliminary round with a record of one draw against the OL Reign, one win against Houston, and two losses against Utah and the North Carolina Courage. 

Coming into this match, Sky Blue is looking to turn their luck around and get a win to continue moving forward in the tournament. To do that, they will be looking towards midfielders McCall Zerboni and Jennifer Cudjoe to create key chances and Nahomi Kawasumi and Ifeoma Onumonu up top to convert them.

On top, Kawasumi has played every minute of the tournament for Sky Blue, scoring one goal and creating two key passes, while Onumonu has one assist and six key passes for her team. In the midfield, Zerboni will aim to control the midfield, while Cudjoe will be key when looking for distribution for their forwards, as she has an 85.6% successful passing rate. Midge Purce will be important when starting the attack down the flank since 50.8% of her passes have been into the attacking half. Lastly, goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan will be crucial in keeping the team in the game, as she has had two clean sheets saving 14 of the 17 shots she’s faced.

The Spirit

The Spirit wrapped the preliminary round with a record of two wins against the Chicago Red Stars and the Houston Dash, one draw against the Portland Thorns and one loss against the North Carolina Courage. 

Continuing the build up from their past games, the Spirit will look to bring the momentum from their last game win into the quarterfinals. They will look for forwards Ashley Hatch and Ashley Sanchez up top to link up in the attack, for midfielder Rose Lavelle to help in the build-up and defenders Sam Staab and Paige Nielsen to control and start play from the back.

Hatch and Bayley Feist lead the Spirit in shots taken, as well as each having a goal a piece under their belts, while Sanchez has created six key passes and an assist for the team. Dorian Bailey had a near-perfect game in the Spirit’s last match while playing in two different positions and successfully completing all her passes, while Lavelle has had a goal and three key passes so far in the knockout round. Lastly, Staab and Paige continue to be the most active players for the team, being in the top 4 of players with the most complete and successful passes in the tournament.

Additionally, the two midfielders Bailey and Feist will be crucial for the Spirit’s success as they will have to step-up and take captain Andi Sullivan’s spot in the middle since she’s out for the remainder of the tournament with a meniscus injury. 

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