The Washington Spirit opened up the historic fourth season of the NWSL on Saturday with a 1-0 victory at home versus the Boston Breakers. A goal by Joanna Lohman in the 3rd minute was all the Spirit would need to pick up the full three points.
After making a run down the right side of the field, forward Katie Stengel found Crystal Dunn streaking to the near post. When Dunn received the ball, she sent in a cross that found Lohman at the top of the six yard box. Lohman, with her back to goal, executed a bicycle kick to send the ball just past Boston goalkeeper Libby Stout’s outstretched arms and into the back of the net.
“The ball was a little bit behind me and it was my only option to get to it,” Lohman said. “So I thought why the heck not. There is no other way I’m going to score. You want to at least try and score, so I flipped it around and tried to attempt a bicycle kick and I some how pulled it off.”
From then on, the new and improved back line for the Spirit held strong in front of Canadian goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé. Boston had a few flourishes of opportunities, but the strong play of Labbé sent them back to Beantown with zero points.
Both teams traded fouls back and fourth throughout the game, but it wasn’t until the 86th minute that a player was put into the book. Spirit defender Megan Oyster was shown a yellow card for a foul, just outside the 18 yard box, on Breakers forward Kyah Simon.
In the 69th minute, Cali Farquharson came into the game, replacing Katie Stengel. This was Farquharson’s NWSL debut after being drafted by the Spirit in the offseason. The young forward used her fresh legs to counterattack and put Boston back on its heels. Along with the substitution of Diana Matheson for Estefania Banini, the home side held off the visitors push for an equalizer late in the game in front of 3,578 fans.
“It was a good test for us, for our concentration,” Spirit head coach Jim Gabarra said. “We defended and tried to keep the ball in their half as much as possible the last 15-20 minutes.”
The Spirit will be back in action next weekend, as they travel to New Jersey to take on Sky Blue FC (1-0). Kick off for that matchup will be at 6 p.m. on Sunday, April 24th. Washington’s next home match will be on May 7th at 7 p.m. as the Portland Thorns come to town.