Spirit to Look For First Win of NWSL Season Saturday Night at the SoccerPlex
After securing the club’s first point of the 2017 National Women’s Soccer League season last weekend in Orlando, the Washington Spirit (0-1-1, 1 pt) returns home to Maureen Hendricks Field this Saturday in search of the club’s first win in a match-up with the Houston Dash (1-1-0, 3 pts). Kickoff is set for 7:00 pm.
Washington will play on its home field for the second time this season, returning home following last Saturday’s 1-1 draw against the Orlando Pride in Florida. Denmark international Line Sigvardsen Jensen netted her first career NWSL goal on a header, while goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé and the Spirit back line held the opposing attack to just one goal for a second straight week. The Spirit opened the season with a narrow 1-0 loss at Maureen Hendricks Field against the defending NWSL Champion North Carolina Courage.
“We look forward to building off our last performance in Orlando,” said Spirit head coach and general manager Jim Gabarra. "This will be another opportunity for us to play in front of our fans in an environment that we can succeed in.”
Houston began the season with a 2-0 home win over the Chicago Red Stars as Kealia Ohai scored one goal and assisted Rachel Daly on the other, while goalkeeper Lydia Williams and the Dash defense registered their first clean sheet of 2017. Houston fell 5-1 last weekend in Seattle and will continue its road swing this weekend at the Maryland SoccerPlex, where the club is 0-4-0 all-time.
While Houston seeks its first ever win at Washington, the Spirit will look to secure its first victory of 2017 after a strong two-way performance by the club in Orlando. Washington put up six shots on goal to the Pride’s five, and in total won 35 duels to the Pride’s 26.
Four Spirit players — Kassey Kallman, Shelina Zadorsky, Tori Huster and Whitney Church — rank in the NWSL’s top six so far this season in interceptions, as the club leads the league in the category with 59, 14 more than second-place Seattle’s 45. Meanwhile, Labbé leads all NWSL goalkeepers with 12 saves through her first two matches, and Huster ranks tied for third in the league with seven tackles won.
Kallman made NWSL history last week as well, extending her consecutive minutes played streak to a league record 3,780 minutes, a run which now includes 42 straight regular season matches dating back to 2014. Former Western New York Flash and current FC Kansas City defender Brittany Taylor held the previous NWSL “Ironwoman” consecutive minutes streak at 3,690.
On Thursday, the Spirit announced the signing of U.S. U-23 Women’s National Team forward Crystal Thomas, who is expected to suit up for the club on Saturday. Thomas helped lead Georgetown to its first Women’s College Cup appearance in 2016, scoring the game-winning goal in the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals against Santa Clara.
Thomas, who is coming off a remarkable college career with 31 goals and 17 assists, received her first call-up with the U.S. U-23s in January as they kicked off their 2017 cycle. The Elgin, Illinois native was a member of the Spirit’s first team roster throughout the preseason and training camp.
“Crystal came in from day one of preseason and has provided good energy and high level of intensity to our team,” said Gabarra. “She offers a lot of good attacking qualities as well as an understanding of our style of play. We look forward to seeing how Crystal takes this opportunity.”
Thomas was a standout at Notre Dame University for two seasons before transferring to Georgetown, another Big East program, in 2014. She became the first freshman in Notre Dame history to lead the team in goals in 2012, and in 2013 was called up to the U.S. U-20 Women’s National Team.
In honor of National Volunteer Week, the Spirit are also offering 1 free ticket to this or the May 6 game against Sky Blue FC to anyone who volunteers for a soccer organization and completes the following online form before Saturday, April 30 at midnight: http://washingtonspirit.com/national-volunteer-week-ticket-offer/
Tickets for all Spirit home matches are available now at https://tickets.washingtonspirit.com
Top: Kristie Mewis (19) and the Washington Spirit look for their first win of the NWSL season this Saturday at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Germantown.
Next: Denmark international Line Sigvardsen Jensen (7) netted her first career NWSL goal last week in the 1-1 draw with the Orlando Pride.Next: Shelina Zadorky (4) is one of four Spirit in the NWSL’s top six so far this season in interceptions.
Next: This week the Spirit signed Crystal Thomas.
Photos courtesy Washington Spirit Fan Facebook Page