The Washington Spirit (4-8-4, 15 pts) stormed back from a 1-0 halftime deficit with four unanswered goals in the second half to defeat Sky Blue FC (7-8-2, 23 pts) 4-1 on Friday night at Yurcak Field in Piscataway, NJ.
After Sky Blue took an early lead in just the second minute on a point blank strike from Maya Hayes assisted by Daphne Corboz, the Spirit defense held strong the rest of the game while four different players found the net in the second half onslaught. Rookie forward Arielle Ship scored her first professional goal and assisted the next two Spirit scores in a breakout performance.
“We weren’t happy with our performance in the first half, but we came out flying in the second half and rode that momentum through the rest of the game,” said Spirit head coach and general manager Jim Gabarra. “Getting this win on the road does a lot for our confidence and it’s a reward for how hard we’ve been training and playing the last couple of months.”
Six minutes into the second half, Ship leveled the game with her first career goal, a long range blast into the upper left side of the net, set up by an assist from Havana Solaun.
Ten minutes later, forward Cheyna Williams scored her second goal of the season, as she and Ship chased down a field-length goal kick from Stephanie Labbé. Both Ship and Williams were able to get behind the Sky Blue defense on the play, with Ship getting the first touch on the way to the goal before Williams tapped it into the net from directly in front of the left post.
In the 73rd minute, rookie midfielder Meggie Dougherty Howard netted her first goal of her young NWSL career, splitting a pair of defenders and burying a shot after receiving a through ball from Ship.
Dougherty Howard went on to draw a foul in the box in the 87th minute, leading to Washington’s final goal of the night. Solaun stepped up and converted the ensuing penalty kick team-leading fifth score of the season.
Washington outshot Sky Blue 23-8 overall, with eight shots on target to Sky Blue’s two. Kassey Kallman led the Spirit defensively with eight interceptions and three clearances, while Dougherty Howard had a team-high five tackles.
The Spirit will be back in action on Tuesday, August 8 for a road contest against the Orlando Pride. The Spirit will play next at home on August 12 against the Boston Breakers. Tickets are available at the Spirit website.
Top:Second year player Chenya Williams (20) kept the comeback going with her second goal of the year.
Next: Rookie Arielle Ship (2) netted her first career goal to begin the Spirit’s second-half comeback to beat Sky Blue FC. She also has two assists in the game.
Next: Rookie Meggie Dougherty Howard (29) netted her first goal of her career to put the Spirt up 3-1.
Next: Spirit goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé (1) allowed just one goal in the game.
All photos are file photos by Germantown Pulse.