Secure playoff berth with 4-1 victory vs. FASA
D.C. United Women News Release - www.dcunitedwomen.com
Sunday, July 1, 2012
GERMANTOWN, Md. - D.C. United Women (9-0-1) beat FASA Impact (4-3-2) 4-1 at the Maryland SoccerPlex on Sunday evening to clinch the Atlantic Division title and the team's first playoff berth with two games to play in the regular season.
"It feels great," said Head Coach Mike Jorden on wrapping up the division and securing a playoff spot. "I give a lot of credit to the players. They've worked hard to get there, especially the players that came back from last year."
United Women found the back of the net with consistency throughout the first half, breaking the game open with two goals in the first 10 minutes. The team rattled off 13 first-half shots and 25 for the game, with 13 of those coming on target. Tiffany Brown opened the scoring in the seventh minute by netting her first goal of the season, finishing a brilliant long-range throw in from Georgetown graduate Sam Baker.
Moments after Brown's goal had been announced to the Maryland SoccerPlex crowd, Lianne Sanderson launched a long goal from outside the box and doubled her team's lead. The former England Women's National Team forward played a loose ball and went upper left 90, giving FASA goalkeeper Melissa Pacheco no chance at making a save. The goal would be Sanderson's first of two on the night, to go along with an assist, as the 24-year-old striker had a breakout performance with five points.
Sanderson's first goal gave United Women a commanding 2-0 early lead but the Impact would not go down without a fight. Less than a minute after the Black-and-Red went up two goals to none, FASA came back with an answer of its own. Cortlyn Bristol made a quick pass in stride to Kristen Lybert, who found an alley in the left side of the United Women box and finished the play by sending a roller into the right side of the net past keeper Didi Haracic.
Lybert's goal would put her team back in contention, but ultimately the well-oiled machine that is the D.C. United Women offense would take over once again. Mikaela Howell, the W-League's third leading scorer, found her eighth goal of the season in the 26th minute on an assist by Sanderson to give United Women a 3-1 first-half lead. Howell once again played with toughness in the offensive third and added two points to her individual total giving her a team-high 23 on the year, which is good for second in the W-League. With four more goals on Sunday, United Women now have the top-ranked offense in the Eastern Conference with 30 goals scored.
"I thought we played really well and I thought we were super dangerous all night," Jorden said. "Lianne had a great game and Hayley Siegel has been playing great lately - she's a very creative player. Mikaela played well, and between the three of them we were creating some problems tonight."
Sanderson completed her second brace of the season to give D.C. United Women even more insurance in the 53rd minute, scoring another unassisted goal on a deep shot. Her fourth goal of the season came on a spectacular individual effort, bending the shot to move from the center to the far corner of the goal to beat substitute keeper Karen Blocker.
From there, the United Women back line locked in on defense and held the Impact scoreless for a total of 80 straight minutes to finish the match.
Sunday's win not only wrapped up the division title but also allowed the Black-and-Red to strengthen their hold on first place in the Eastern Conference and remain in position to host the playoffs later this month. The team's 28 points are now five ahead of the Southeast Division's Atlanta Silverbacks and Charlotte Lady Eagles' 23 for best in the conference.
Earning the right to host the playoffs has been a primary goal for D.C. United Women all season long, so a division title was an important step, but by no means a time to celebrate in the eyes of the team.
"We need to win the next couple of games to host which is what we want to do," Sanderson said. "We're not getting carried away, we're just signing autographs, no one's really celebrating that we won the division. I think it's important we go into the playoffs with a good run."
"We talk about it a lot, just being professionals out here and getting out doing our job," added Jorden on the team's humble approach. "We've got a 'One game at a time' mentality and we've done a pretty good job so far with that."
D.C. United Women will need to win their final two regular season matches to guarantee the right to host the Eastern Conference playoffs. The team plays its regular season home finale next Saturday, July 7 at 7 p.m. against the Dayton Dutch Lions in what will be Becky Sauerbrunn's Olympic send-off. The team will once again be giving out a free youth ticket with every purchase of an adult ticket as part of a special late season offer. Fans can pre-order tickets now at https://tickets.dcunitedwomen.com.