MATCH REPORT: Spirit Dominate in Victory Over Sky Blue FC

By Julie Zovak

The visiting Washington Spirit completely overpowered Sky Blue FC Sunday evening at Yurkak Field in New Jersey in a 3-1 victory that featured two goals from the Spirit’s Crystal Dunn. With the win, Washington (2-1-0) snapped Sky Blue’s (1-1-1) seven game winning streak dating back to last season.

Dunn’s aggressiveness and speed were too much for SBFC to handle in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) matchup. She started the game on fire, scoring in the sixth minute to put the Spirit up 1-0. Sky Blue defender Kristin Grubka gave the ball away near the top of the box with Dunn sweeping in and stealing it. After a quick touch to teammate Francisca Ordega, who touched it right back, Dunn took a sliding shot from the left side to score on keeper Brittany Cameron for the early lead.

The ball went back and forth across the midfield for a while, with either side getting a couple poor shots off and fighting for possession. In the 31st minute, Sky Blue defender Kelley O’Hara crossed a ball from the left side to the middle of the box, giving forward Katy Freels a shot that hit the crossbar. Maya Hayes followed the rebound with a header toward the goal, but it was an easy grab for Spirit keeper Ashlyn Harris.

Dunn struck again in the 40th minute, receiving a pass from the midfield and breaking away from her defender. Her shot was cut off by Cameron, but the keeper knocked the ball right back to Dunn, who wouldn’t miss a second time, putting it in the back of the net for her second goal of the game and a 2-0 lead.

The teams would enter the break that way, with Sky Blue FC not doing much offensively. Things would get even worse for them to start off the second half.

Two minutes after play resumed, Ordega took a ball to the back line of the field, and with SBFC defender Christie Rampone tight on her, found enough room to cross the ball to midfielder Christine Nairn, who neatly finished the play for a commanding 3-0 lead. Meanwhile, Dunn continued to be a force, combining with forward Estefania Banini on a couple of close plays that were almost Spirit goals.

Sky Blue FC finally showed something in the 62nd minute, when Nadia Nadim crossed a ball to the near post and Freels knocked it in past a diving Ashlyn Harris to put SBFC on the board.

But the goal would not be enough to stop the Spirit, who continued their aggressive play and successfully defended the net. Sky Blue had a couple different sets of back to back corner kicks, but they could not capitalize on the opportunities near the goal. In the 76th minute, Nadim took a close range shot but sent it just wide.

Sky Blue showed some life in the waning minutes of the match, sending a couple long passes to Nadim that were just out of her reach. Then in stoppage time, Freels followed up on a corner kick with a cross to the box, but the resulting shot was saved by a diving Harris.

After four minutes of stoppage time, the score was final – the Spirit got their second victory of the season plus three points and ended Sky Blue FC’s winning streak.

Next weekend, Sky Blue FC will be in Chicago for a game against the Red Stars while the Spirit will travel to play Seattle Reign FC.

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