Undefeated Spirit Sit Atop NWSL Standings
The Washington Spirit, Germantown’s hometown professional woman’s soccer team, remain unbeaten and untied after three weeks of NWSL play and are atop the standing sheet with nine points.
On Friday, the Spirit defeated the Western New York Flash in Rochester, NY. It was the Spirit’s second consecutive game on the road, after the team dispatched Sky Blue FC, two weeks ago, in New Jersey.
Canadian midfielder Diana Matheson scored twice on Friday to spur the Spirit to victory. Her first tally was a powerful shot inside the box within the first five minutes and the second was a successful penalty kick in the second half making the score 2-0.
The third goal was initially scored an own goal against the Flash in 82nd minute but, was later changed and the goal was credited to Katie Stengel, unassisted. This goal is Stengel’s first NWSL goal and it solidified the Spirit’s third straight victory.
In the 4th minute, USWNT forward Crystal Dunn earned her third assist in three games when Matheson scored her second goal of the season. Spirit midfielder Christine Nairn successfully kept a ball in play that was nearly out of bounds on the right flank. She passed the ball to the feet of Dunn who sent a through ball that split defenders across the field to Matheson. Matheson took a powerful shot from inside the penalty box and sent the ball into the back of the net.
In the 36th minute, the Flash had an opportunity when Canadian keeper Stephanie Labbé came off her line to snatch a ball sent into the box but was unable to get a hand on it. Flash midfielder Halimatu Ayinde took a shot on the open net but it sailed over the crossbar.
Western New York had another promising look on goal just five minutes later when a foul called on the Spirit’s Joanna Lohman just outside of the box provided Abby Dahlkemper with a free kick opportunity a few yards outside of the box, however it landed right in the arms of Labbé.
In the 49th minute, Megan Oyster cleared a ball in the penalty box and was called for a foul, giving USWNT and Flash midfielder Samantha Mewis the opportunity to take a penalty kick. Her shot deflected off the post and was cleared by the Spirit. Shortly thereafter in the 53rd minute, forward Taylor Smith made a breakaway run, but her shot also hit the post and the rebound was collected by Labbé.
In the 70th minute, the Spirit’s rookie forward Cheyna Williams was taken down in the penalty box by Western New York’s Jaelene Hinkle, earning the Spirit a penalty kick. Matheson stepped up to take the kick and earned her second goal of the night and third of the season, furthering the lead over the Flash to 2-0.
“Matheson is one of the best PK kickers in the league,” said Spirit general manager and head coach Jim Gabarra. “I was confident she was going to put it in the back of the net.” Matheson is currently the NWSL goal leader with three goals in this very young season.
Friday’s road win keeps the Spirit unbeaten and marks the second shut-out posted by new Spirit goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé. The Spirit remains in first place in the NWSL with nine points through three games, while the 1-2-0 Western New York Flash drops to eighth with a total of three points.
The Spirit are back home this Saturday to begin a two game home stand. On Saturday, May 7, the Spirit will host former head coach Mark Parsons and the 2-0-1 Portland Thorns. The Thorns are currently in second place with seven points, who are coming off a 1-0 victory over Boston on Sunday. Portland is led by USWNT players Meghan Klingenberg, Tobin Heath, and Lindsey Horan.
On May 14, the Spirit will host the 1-1-1 Houston Dash, and 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup Champion and 2015 FIFA World Player of the Year Carli Lloyd.
Both of the Spirit’s upcoming home games will be played at 7:00 pm at Maureen Hendricks Field in the Maryland SoccerPlex. Tickets are available now by calling 301-337-8579 or visiting the Washington Spirit website.
Top: Spirit forward Diana Matheson (8) on the pitch during a home game against the Western New York Flask in the 2015 season.
Video: Video of Diana Matheson's penalty kick to put the Spirit up 2-0 over the Western New York Flash. Courtesy Washington Spirit Twitter.
Photo by Germantown Pulse.