Washington Spirit Defeat Sky Blue FC 1-0
Rose Lavelle, the winner of the Bronze Ball at the World Cup, made her return to the NWSL in front of a sold-out crowd at Yurcak Field. Photo: NWSLSoccer.com

Washington Spirit Defeat Sky Blue FC 1-0

A crowd of 5,003 people attended the match, the second largest audience at a Sky Blue FC home game in the history of the NWSL.

Jessica Guan

The Washington Spirit ended a three-game losing streak and a five-game winless streak by defeating Sky Blue FC in front of a sold-out crowd at Rutgers University’s Yurcak Field. Although the statistics suggest that the Spirit dominated the home team (they had already taken twelve shots by halftime compared to Sky Blue FC’s three), they were only able to place the ball into the net once.

Opening goal elusive in first half

Neither side was able to find the net in the first 45 minutes, but it wasn't because of the lack of chances.

U.S. Women's National Team co-captain and two-time World Cup winner Carli Lloyd helped produce the game's first scoring opportunity. Positioned in the center of her team's attacking half, she played the ball to Costa Rican Raquel Rodriguez near the edge of the box. Rodriguez then cut the ball in but hit her shot over the goal.

Mallory Pugh troubled Sky Blue FC goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan in the 21st minute. She did some great one-versus-one work on an opposing defender in the midfield before chipping in a pass to the left side of the box for Rose Lavelle. Lavelle had a difficult angle to take a truly lethal shot, but regardless, Sheridan's excellent positioning allowed her to deflect Lavelle's shot away.

Pugh herself had a chance to find a goal in the 36th minute. Again, she took on a Sky Blue FC defender one-on-one before cutting in toward the top of the box and taking a shot with her left foot that narrowly missed the bottom left corner of the net.

Sky Blue could not find their way to goal throughout the match | Source: skybluefc.com
Sky Blue FC could not find their way to goal throughout the match. | Photo: www.twitter.com/SkyBlueFC

Hatch scores game winner

2017 NWSL Rookie of the Year Ashley Hatch finished a one-on-one chance in the 54th minute to clinch three points at home for her team. A ball was played in behind the Sky Blue FC backline for her to run on to, and she calmly placed it between the legs of Sheridan whom she caught off guard.

A member of the Jamaican Women's National Team at the World Cup, Cheyna Matthews entered the match as a substitute in the second-half and immediately created a chance for Hatch to find a second goal. After receiving a ball inside the box, she cut it back and laid it off for Hatch, but Hatch fired her shot directly at Sheridan.

Having Pugh and Lavelle back certainly helped the Spirit tonight while Sky Blue FC welcomed back local product Lloyd who was placed in a four-player midfield.

Up next for Sky Blue FC (2-9-2) is a visit to Texas to take on the Houston Dash this Sunday while the Washington Spirit (6-4-3) will travel to North Carolina to take on the reigning NWSL champions next Friday.