Spirit Wins Historic Season Opener
The Washington Spirit, Germantown’s hometown professional women’s soccer team, began the historic fourth season of play with a 1-0 home victory over the Boston Breakers on Saturday.
On a beautiful, cloudless Maryland evening in front of 3,578 fans at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, the Spirit earned a full three points as Midfielder and Silver Spring native Joanna Lohman scored on a bicycle kick to seal the victory in the early going.
In the 3rd minute, Spirit forward Katie Stengel dribbled into the box where she took on two defenders. Stengel sent the ball to the feet of forward Crystal Dunn as she made a near post run toward the end line. Dunn then sent a perfect cross to Lohman, who found the ball bouncing upward and drove it past Breakers goalkeeper Libby Stout with a bicycle kick to give the Spirit a 1-0 lead.
The Breakers nearly equalized when the Spirit’s new goalkeeper Canadian Stephanie Labbé saved a ball off the goal line. Extending her arms in front of her, she was able to keep the powerful strike out of the net.
In the 86th minute, the referee awarded her first yellow card of the game to Spirit center back Megan Oyster. Oyster was called on a slide tackle while clearing the ball from Breakers forward Kyah Simon. Simon had several strong attempts on net throughout the game, including a strike that went soaring just over the crossbar.
NWSL rooking Cali Farquharson made her professional debut when she replaced Stengel in the 65th minute. In just over twenty minutes of play, she proved a prominent force on the field. In the 85th minute, she had a shot on net that went just wide. Her speed provided her with several opportunities to assist in counterattacks against the Breakers.
“It was a good test for us in concentration to make sure that we defended and kept the ball in their half for the last fifteen to twenty minutes,” said general manager and head coach Jim Gabarra after the match. Gabarra, who has coached in all three women’s professional leagues in the US, also noted Saturday’s match “was very similar to the WUSA opener where it was a very good atmosphere and a perfect day.”
After the home opener, the Spirit go on the road to challenge Sky Blue FC at Yurcak Field in New Jersey on Sunday, April 24 at 6:00 pm. This match will be one of four matchups against Sky Blue this season. The Spirit’s next home game is on May 7 at 7:00 pm as former Spirit Head Coach Mark Parsons and a star-studded Portland Thorns FC come to Germantown. The Thorns have 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup Champions Tobin Heath and Meghan Klingenburg, as well as up and coming USWNT players Allie Long, Emily Sonnett, and Lindsey Horan, along with the Canadian Federation’s Christine Sinclair. The Thorns also have former Spirit players Hayley Raso and Katherine Reynolds who will return to the SoccerPlex for the first time.
Top: Joanna Lohman’s (15) bicycle kick in the third minute got past Boston keeper Libby Stout to give the Spirit the victory and three points in the opener of the historic fourth season of NWSL play.
Next: Washington’s Spirit goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé (1) saves a ball off the goal line.
Next: Spirit midfielder Joanna Lohman (15) goes up for a header during Saturday’s victory over Boston.
Photos courtesy Washington Spirit Fan Facebook Page