Utah Royals FC put together a solid performance to shut out the Washington Spirit at home and pick up their first win in franchise history. Kelley O'Hara and Diana Matheson were the goal scorers in the final match of Saturday's National Women's Soccer League action and helped their team to an important win.
O'Hara puts Utah up early
The home side were eager to try and get their first win of the season and their start exemplified that desire. Utah pressured Washington right from the get go and it results in the opening goal of the match when O'Hara scored in the seventh minute. Diana Matheson won the ball back for the Royals in midfield and pumped the ball forward towards Rodriguez. The striker then held off her marker, turned and slotted the ball through to O'Hara who accelerated past Taylor Smith before slotting the ball home with a first-time shot.
Washington almost equalized ten minutes later when Gunnhildur Jónsdóttir was caught on the ball by Francisca Ordega deep in her own half. Ordega tried to get to the ball but Abby Smith had raced out to clear the danger. Instead, the Utah goalkeeper found the feet of Ashley Hatch who, with the goal gaping decided to try and score from a long way out. Unfortunately for the Spirit, her effort went well wide of the goal. O'Hara then almost put Utah two-nil up when in the 29th minute, Katrina Gorry chipped the ball over the Washington backline and found O'Hara who had made a late run into the box. The US international then tried to pick out the far corner but her aim was just off and the ball rolled wide of the far post.
Utah capitalize on an error to ice the game
Washington started the second half as the more dominant team as the controlled possession and cut out the passing lanes Utah had used to great effect in the first half. The first chance the Spirit created in the second half came when a deflected pass fell to Ashley Hatch who went for goal but didn't trouble Smith at all. The Spirit continued to try and pin Utah back but could not find their way to go and were then punished in the 66th minute by Matheson. Taylor Smith tried to find Estelle Johnson with a square pass which was a little too long and allowed Matheson to chase down Johnson before winning the ball with a solid tackle. The Canadian international then got up and with Aubrey Bledsoe bearing down on her, dinked the ball past the goalkeeper into the empty net.
Washington did not falter and continued to try and find a way past a resilient Utah backline led by Becky Sauerbrunn but it wasn't until late in the game that the away side found some gaps to fully exploit. In the 83rd minute, a corner kick for Washington was nodded back towards goal and Andi Sullivan had a gilt-edged opportunity to get a goal back for her team but she ended up shanking her shot from close range. It had been easier for the midfielder to score from there than to miss but miss she did. The final chance of the game fell to Washington in stoppage time when Hatch picked out Ordega alone in the penalty area. The Washington forward turned and shot from within the six yard area only to see Abby Smith pull off a great save from close range. That was the closest Washington had come to scoring and it ended up being their last chance to get something from the game as they handed Utah their first win of the season.