The Washington Spirit, Germantown’s hometown professional woman’s soccer team, lost its opening day match last Saturday, 1-0 to the North Carolina Courage, but the bigger loss be the loss of veteran midfielder Joanna Lohman for the entire season due to an ACL injury.
The Spirit announced Monday that Lohman will miss the remainder of the 2017 NWSL season after tearing her left ACL during the first half of the Spirit’s loss to the Courage at the Maryland SoccerPlex on Saturday.
"It's extremely unfortunate. Joanna worked incredibly hard during the offseason and was poised for another excellent year," said Spirit general manager and head coach Jim Gabarra. "She will have our full support throughout her recovery process."
Lohman, a Washington, DC native, has been with the Spirit since the end of the 2014 season when the club claimed her off the NWSL Waiver Wire from the Boston Breakers. The former U.S. Women's National Team player has been a key contributor since joining the Spirit, and is coming off a 2016 season in which she finished tied for second on the team with four goals.
She took to Twitter to say, “To my fans, friends, and Spirit Family – it is with an incredible amount of sadness that I inform you I tore my ACL. This team & everyone involved helps me in ways I can never fully express, so I’m most disappointed that I would be able to help our mission on the field. My heart is shattered but I know each of you will help by picking up one of the pieces and putting it back in its rightful place. And because of you, I will be whole again very soon.”
As for the Spirit falling to North Carolina on Saturday, it was a 19th minute goal by McCall Zerboni on an assist from Makenzy Doniak proved to be the difference on opening day of the 2017 National Women’s Soccer League regular season. The 1-0 loss to the players who won the NWSL championship last year, is an encouraging outcome for the Spirit who are a very different team than that which came up just short in the championship game against those players last year.
Over the offseason, the Western New York Flash, the team that won the Championship was sold and moved to North Carolina and became the North Carolina Courage. Most of the team remained intact, but the name, uniform, and location changed.
Washington goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé racked up eight saves in the loss, several of which came in challenging 1v1 situations from inside the box. The Canadian international and 2016 Rio Olympics bronze medalist was simply dominant in the second half, denying a flurry of shots from reigning MVP Lynn Williams, 2016 Best XI forward Jessica McDonald and offseason acquisition Debinha.
“To only concede one goal says a lot about [Labbé’s] performance as a shot stopper,” said Spirit head coach Jim Gabarra. “We’d like to have her get a lot less work in most games, but [the Courage] are one of the top attacking teams in the league. Overall I thought she saved us on numerous occasions.”
North Carolina’s prolific attack piled up 21 total shots on the afternoon, nine of which were on target. The Spirit recorded four total shots, none on target.
Washington came closest to equalizing in the 63rd minute when Tori Huster sent a pass down the field to Katie Stengel, who beat her defender but missed wide right as her momentum carried her toward the inline.
Next week, the Spirit will travel to Orlando to take on former Spirit standouts Ashlyn Harris and Ali Krieger, and the Pride as part of Lifetime Network’s NWSL Game of the Week at 4:00 pm with pregame beginning at 3:30 pm. Orlando is coming off of 2-0 loss to the Portland Thorns FC.
Top: Washington Spirit’s Joanna Lohman (15) heads a ball during Saturday’s opening day game at the Maryland SoccerPlex, a 1-0 loss to the North Carolina Courage.
Next: Lohman (15) would leave the game in the 19th minute suffering an injury later diagnosed as a torn left ACL. She will miss the entire 2017 season for the Spirit.
Next: Spirit goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé (1) racked up eight saves in the loss, several of which came in challenging 1v1 situations from inside the box.
Next: Spirit forward Francisca Ordega (14) launches a shot on goal.
Photos courtesy Washington Spirit Fan Facebook page.