Nigerian international forward Francisca Ordega had a hand in all four Washington Spirit goals as the club earned its first victory of the 2017 NWLS season with a 4-3 victory over Sky Blue FC in front of 3,190 fans at Maureen Hendricks Field at the Maryland SoccerPlex on Saturday night.
Ordega netted two goals, assisted Havana Solaun on another and made a play to force a Sky Blue FC own goal to lead Washington’s attack in a breakout performance. The Spirit improved to 1-2-1 with the win.
“We made a commitment to being more balanced and aggressive in our attack, and we were much better in transition,” said Spirit head coach and general manager Jim Gabarra. “It was big for us to get a win at home in front of our fans.”
Washington opened the scoring in the sixth minute, taking an early lead on a quickstrike from Ordega. Denmark international midfielder Line Sigvardsen Jensen provided the assist on the play with a well-placed through ball.
Sky Blue quickly countered to make it 1-1 in the 12th minute, as U.S. Women’s National Team player Kelley O’Hara struck the net after recovering a rebound in front of the frame.
The Spirit took the lead back in the 26th minute, when Ordega’s pressure and aggressiveness in the Sky Blue box forced an own goal knocked in by Sky Blue’s Erin Simon.
Solaun extended Washington’s lead to 3-1 in the 34th minute, launching a shot into the top right corner of the net after receiving a pass from Ordega.
After heading into halftime holding a 3-1 lead, the Spirit faced some adversity in the second half as Sky Blue FC rallied its offense behind O’Hara and Sarah Killion. In the 50th minute, Killion scored the first of her two second half goals, burying a shot into the lower left side of the net from the right side of the box. The goal came on an assist from O’Hara.
Ordega answered back six minutes later to complete her brace, receiving a pass in stride from Solaun and bursting up the seam, advancing all the way to just in front of the post and ultimately knocking in a close-range shot after weaving around goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan. Ordega’s second goal pushed the Spirit lead to 4-2 and proved to be the game-winner.
Killion pulled Sky Blue back within striking distance in the 71st minute, converting a penalty kick to make it 4-3. However, Washington held strong the rest of the way, as Canadian international goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé recorded two of her six saves in the closing minutes to preserve the lead.
Another Canadian international and 2016 Rio Olympics bronze medalist, center back Shelina Zadorsky, led all players with 50 total passes (78 percent accuracy).
2017 NWSL College Draft pick Cameron Castleberry made her professional debut in the win, subbing on for fellow rookie draft pick Arielle Ship in the 65th minute.
Highlights of the Washington Spirit v Sky Blue FC game on Saturday night.
Top: Nigerian international star Francisca Ordega (14) hand a hand in all four Spirit goals in Satruday’s 4-3 victory over Sky Blue FC. She had two goals, assisted on another, and forced an own goal.
Next: Ordega celebrates with teammates, Havana Solaun and Line Sigvardsen Jensen after scoring her first goal of the match in the sixth minute.
Next: Havana Solaun (9) shoots and scores on a 1 v 1 against Sky Blue FC goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan (1) for the Spirit’s third goal of the match. It was Saluan’s first goal as a member of the Spirit.
Next: Ordega (14) shoots and scores her second goal of the night after beating goalie Kailen Sheridan, who had come off her line to challenge.
Next: Spirit goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé (1) punches away a high shot late in the game to preserve the one goal lead.
Photos by Germantown Pulse.