Spirit’s Dunn Finishes Off Sky Blue

Sky Blue's Kelley O'Hara and Shawna Gordon face the Washington Spirit

Sky Blue Beat Writer

With her mom watching from the stands, the Washington Spirit’s Crystal Dunn led her team to a first-ever win over Sky Blue FC on Sunday at Yurcak Field by the score of 3-1.

The Long Island native registered a first half brace and her teammate Christine Nairn added a third before Nadia Nadim and Katy Freels combined for Sky Blue’s only goal in the New Jersey side’s first loss of the young season.

“Scoring a couple of goals is always great. It’s a good feeling for me and it’s a great team performance,” said Dunn, a product of South Side High School in Rockville Center. “I’m close to home, so it’s really great to have some support making the drive out here.”

Sky Blue ran out the same starting line-up that started their 1-1 draw with the Houston Dash last Saturday, while the Spirit brought in Nigerian international striker Francisca Ordega for Laura Del Rio.

It was the final match for captain Christie Rampone and left back Kelley O’Hara before they depart for the United States national team camp this week. There they will be joined by Spirit keeper Ashlyn Harris and the currently injured Ali Krieger, but not Dunn, who already has three goals on the young season.

Playing in an advanced midfield position, the No.1 draft pick from 2014 took a pass from Ordega in the 6th minute, just inside the box and unleashed a shot beyond the reach of Sky Blue’s Brittany Cameron.

Sky Blue nearly answered immediately when the combination play of Sarah Killion and Maya Hayes, freed Shawna Gordon just inside the 6 yard box, but the midfielder was flagged for offside.

Washington repeatedly attacked down the right side of Sky Blue’s defense targeting fullback Cami Levin with diagonals and the speed of their wing players. The New Jersey team countered with several hopeful balls over the top for Nadim and play through the middle of the field. Their best chance to equalize came in the 32nd, as O’Hara’s cross fell slightly behind Nadim, who laid the ball off for Freels to strike. The midfielder’s shot smacked the crossbar and Hayes could only meekly head the rebound into the hands of Harris.

The visitors doubled their lead in the 40th with another attack down Sky Blue’s right channel. Dunn beat Levin only to see her shot initially stifled by Cameron. The resulting carom, however, landed at Dunn’s feet and she gave the Spirit their second goal.

Just past halftime, Washington put the game nearly out of reach as Ordega squared the ball across the six yard box for Nairn to tap in. The third goal was followed by two strikingly similar chances with first Ordega, then forward Estafania Banini, finding space on the right side of Sky Blue’s penalty box, only to see their efforts fall wide of the mark.

The home side finally got on the board in the 62nd minute with Nadim sending a quick cross from deep in the box onto the head of Freels who scored. Five minutes later, Hayley Haagsma replaced Levin, to make her first ever appearance the team after losing all of 2014 to an torn ACL. Then Sky Blue coach Jim Gabarra went direct, sacrificing rookie centerback Kristin Grubka for forward Kim DeCesare and rotating Lindsi Cutshall into the backline.

The approach led to several chances for Nadim, but Harris was equal to each of the striker’s shots. Two late corners led to scrambles in the box, but the keeper, who will back-up Hope Solo at the World Cup this summer kept the ball out of the net.

As she and the other internationals depart the league this week, Sky Blue will take on the Chicago Red Stars away next Saturday at 6pm EST.

Scoring Summary:

6’ Crystal Dunn WS

40’ Crystal Dunn WS

48’ Christine Nairn WS

62’ Katy Freels SBFC


Misconduct Summary:

72’ Meg Morris (Yellow Card)


SBFC: Brittany Cameron, Christie Rampone (c), Kristin Grubka (Kim DeCesare-76), Lindsi Cutshall, Cami Levin (Hayley Haagsma-67), Shawna Gordon (Meg Morris-60), Katy Freels, Sarah Killion, Kelley O’Hara, Nadia Nadim, Maya Hayes

Substitutes Not Used: Aubrey Bledsoe, Nikki Stanton, Theresa Diederich, Lo’eau LaBonta

WS: Ashlyn Harris, Katherine Reynolds, Megan Oyster, Angela Salem (Joanna Lohman- 57), Christine Nairn, Francisca Ordega, Crystal Dunn (Amanda Da Costa-80), Alex Singer, Tori Huster (c), Estelle Johnson, Estafania Banini (Laura Del Rio- 68)

Substitutes Not Used: Whitney Church, Tiffany Weimer, Kelsey Wys

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