Matthews Two Goals Secure Spirit Victory Over Sky Blue FC
The Washington Spirit earned their second win of the season, defeating Sky Blue FC in a 3-2 shootout away from home at Yurcak Field in Piscataway, NJ. The Spirit are now unbeaten in their last nine matches against Sky Blue (7-0-2).
The Spirit took a quick 1-0 lead in the 22nd minute after Spirit defender Sam Staab sent a long ball from her backline into the final third finding forward Cheyna Matthews in space on the receiving end. Taking the ball down in stride, Matthews flicked the ball over Sky Blue defender Dominique Richardson and had her initial shot saved by goalkeeper DiDi Haracic on the edge of the six-yard box. The save rebounded back to Matthews’ feet and the forward made no mistake, scoring from a tight angle along the touchline.
The momentum of the first goal nearly saw the Spirit double their lead after a Matthews cross from the right side and an Andi Sullivan threaded through-ball almost connected with forward Ashley Hatch in the six-yard box in the 26th and 29th minutes respectively.
Opportunities were plentiful in the first 45 minutes as both teams combined for a total of 15 shots in the first half, with the Spirit controlling 56 percent of possession. The Spirit were precise in their passing through the first 45 minutes, completing 81 percent of their attempts.
After a Raquel Rodriguez goal for Sky Blue FC sent the match all tied up at the half, the Spirit regained the lead in the 54th minute after a rocket from midfielder Jordan DiBiasi just inside the 18-yard box was beyond the reach of Sky Blue keeper DiDi Haricic and into the top-left corner. It was the Spirit midfielder’s first NWSL goal.
After being subbed into the match in the 66th minute, forward Cali Farquharson made her presence known immediately, sending a through ball and connected with Matthews on the run, who sent a left-footed shot over Haricic once more into the upper-right hand corner of the goal, tallying her second goal of the game and extending the Spirit’s lead to 3-1 in the 68th minute.
Goalscorer Matthews had this to say about Farquharson’s impact: “Cali came on and was an immediate game-changer for us.”
A header from Sky Blue FC’s Imani Dorsey in the 80th minute brought the game within one but proved to not be enough, as the Sky Blue comeback effort came up short after 90 minutes.
The Spirit will return home to the Maryland SoccerPlex for their next match where they will take on Portland Thorns FC on Saturday, May 18 for Armed Forces Night with kick off set for 7:00 pm.
Photo courtesy Washington Spirit/NWSL