This Saturday, the Washington Spirit will host the Boston Breakers in the first game of the fourth NWSL season. To begin the match, retired USWNT goalkeeper Briana Scurry will be taking the first kick of the season.
The Spirit had a successful preseason, winning games against the reigning College Cup champions Penn State and powerhouse University of Virginia 2-0 and 3-0 respectively. They look to continue on this success with a win over the Breakers.
The Spirit has made it into the playoffs and finished fourth the last two years after finishing last in the inaugural season. The team will want to boost off of that and their successful preseason to start off the 2016 season.
The club has a strong roster this season with returners Tori Hurster, Christine Nairn, Canadian international Diana Matheson, and USWNT players Ali Krieger and Crystal Dunn. Dunn was also last season’s golden boot winner and league MVP.
The team also added some new players, especially in forwards. Draft picks Cheyna Williams and Cali Farquharson both led their teams in goals in their college seasons with ten each. The Spirit also added Katie Stengel from FC Bayern Munich who was also a leading scorer for her team.
Spirit also looks solid on the front lines, but with Ashlyn Harris moving to the Orlando Pride, Coach Jim Gabarra looks to his new goalkeepers to step up. Canadian international Stephanie Labbé looks to be the starter having helped her Canadian side to the Olympics.
The team has many newcomers to join the old, but looks to be a solid side and a team ready to start their season with a win.
Boston Breakers ready to kick start a new season
The Breakers have had a rough last couple seasons coming in last and second to last in the standings. The team split their preseason games 2-2, winning the first and last and losing their middle two in Florida. The wins were 7-0 and 8-0 against Northeastern and Boston College respectively, while the losses were against Florida State University and the Florida Elite Academy U16/U17 boys select team.
The team has solid returners in Kristie Mewis, Stephanie McCaffrey, and Morgan Marlborough, who all had great 2015 seasons despite their team record. Mewis led the team in goals with six. The breakers also acquired US international Whitney Engen in the offseason from the Chicago Red Stars in exchange for goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher. Engen will help solidify the backline in hopes to have a better season than the last.
Similar to the Spirit, the Breakers will also start with a new keeper this season. Abby Smith recorded the most recent victory against Boston College playing the full 90 minutes, but Libby Stout has just as likely of a chance at getting the start.
The team will look to rebound off of their franchise-worst season and snap their road winless streak against the Spirit.
The game will be at 7 PM EST at the Maryland SoccerPlex this Saturday.