PISCATAWAY, N.J. — The Washington Spirit picked up their first away win of the season, scoring two goals in the second half to beat host Sky Blue FC 3-2 Saturday at Yurcak Field.
The game’s first goal came courtesy of Jamaican Cheyna Matthews in a play that started initially with goalkeeper Didi Haracic making a save. The ball ended up on the right side of the penalty area, as did Matthews. Though the angle was tight, the forward finished the shot in the 22nd minute.
Speaking about the system the Spirit worked in against Sky Blue, head coach Richie Burke said it “looks like a diamond out of possession, but in possession a little bit more more productive.” He thought the overall performance based in that system was “not bad,” but particularly good for the first goal regarding Matthews’s and Ashley Hatch’s work.
“Hatchy and Cheyna got that pace over the top to give us that release ball,” he said, “and I thought when they did that for the first one particularly great.”
The goal opened up a match which, up to that point, had seen both teams stuck in midfield. Sky Blue in particular enjoyed a solid spell of possession after going down, and 10 minutes later scored a goal of their own.
Sky Blue captain Sarah Killion sent a pass down the left side to find midfielder Savannah McCaskill, making her first start of the season, in the box. From there, McCaskill sent a pass on the opposite side of the box to Raquel Rodriguez, who finished from close range. Both teams searched for another goal, but finished the first half even.
“It was a great early ball in,” McCaskill said. “I found myself in tons of space. I definitely probably could have bombed myself to goal, but I saw [Rodriguez] coming in and she was wide open, so she was the better option and so I just slipped her the ball, and she was able to finish.”
The Spirit, though, came out of halftime with plenty of energy, attacking the Sky Blue defense frequently. Their efforts resulted in two goals, the first of which was Jordan DiBiasi’s first in the league.
Chloe Logarzo sent a ball into the penalty area from the left side of the field, while Amy Harrison sent it further to the center. Finding the ball after making a run was DiBiasi, whose strong strike quickly found the back of the net in the 55th minute.
The Spirit added a third goal, with Matthews scoring a second. Substitute Cali Farquharson sent a ball into a crowd of players and it landed at the feet of Matthews, who took a shot near the penalty spot for a 3-1 lead in the 68th minute.
Again, Sky Blue began looking for its own opportunities to score, and nearly did a few minutes later when Killion’s shot hit the crossbar. Eventually, the team did get another goal, but not the third one they continued to look for.
Setting up for an entertaining final 10 minutes, Imani Dorsey scored Sky Blue’s second goal in the 80th minute. Substitute Amandine Pierre-Louis pounced on a ball that was about to head out of bounds and sent it back into the center of the penalty area, where Dorsey was waiting to score her first goal of the season.
“I’ve had in my mind that I want to score and my teammates are so confident in me and having that confidence kind of gives you that energy to get one in the back of the net,” Dorsey said. “I was able to get there and [get] the one that I had the first half I felt like I should have had.”
Despite a strong effort at the end, Sky Blue players and head coach Denise Reddy felt there was an inconsistency from their side after draws against the North Carolina Courage and the Portland Thorns two weeks in a row. For Reddy, Sky Blue had its best chance to get a result after Rodriguez’s goal, but the momentum eventually switched away from the hosts.
“1-1, I think we have them,” Reddy said. “I think we started a high press and I think they couldn’t get out. … We gave up a few transition situations, but it was a risk-reward for us and we didn’t capitalize on the on the risk side.”
The Spirit almost scored a fourth time a few minutes later, but the offside flag came up, making it a false alarm. The team managed to fairly simply close out the match, earning a second victory over Sky Blue this season.
Sky Blue next heads to Reign FC Saturday, May 18.