D.C. United Defeats Dutch Lions
D.C. United Women News Release - www.dcunitedwomen.com
Saturday, July 7, 2012
GERMANTOWN, MD - Six days after clinching the Atlantic Division title, D.C. United Women (10-0-1) took it one step further on Saturday night, defeating the Dayton Dutch Lions (0-6-3) 4-1 to clinch the Eastern Conference’s best record and earning the right to host the conference playoffs in two weeks.
With the Atlanta Silverbacks playing to a 1-1 draw with VSI Tampa Flames earlier in the evening, United Women were presented with the opportunity to clinch the No. 1 seed on Saturday and would not disappoint. The Black-and-Red scored three goals in a span of five minute early in the second half, running away with the match and the top spot in the conference as they picked up an insurmountable seven point lead in the conference standings over the second-ranked Silverbacks.
“It feels good that we were able to get that done and we’re happy we were able to clinch tonight,” said head coach Mike Jorden after the match. “I hope everybody gets behind us [for the playoffs], because it’s great when they do and the players like to have a packed house like we had tonight. We just hope to keep bringing in the soccer fans.”
D.C. United Women opened the scoring on a goal by Lianne Sanderson in the 34th minute of the first half after struggling to score for the first third of the match despite controlling possession. Ashley Herndon created space in the box for Sanderson, who had camped in front of the left side of the goal and was able to easily tap the ball in after Herndon drew the defense and made a slick pass through the center of the penalty area. The assist would extend Herndon’s team-high points streak to six, but the 17-year-old offensive workhorse was far from finished.
In stoppage time of the first half, Dayton found its way back into the game on a goal from midfielder Jen Agueci that would send the game into halftime deadlocked at one goal each. The Wright State University standout scored on a scramble inside the box, corralling a blocked shot off the body of United Women defender Marisa Abegg and sending the ball into the far left corner of the net. The goal would be just the second one allowed by D.C. goalkeeper Danielle DeLisle all season, as the University of Virginia rising junior picked up her fifth win in net of the summer.
The frustration of the first half for D.C. United Women quickly became a distant memory in the second half. Olympian defender Becky Sauerbrunn gave her team the lead for good in the 53rd minute, netting the game-winning goal from the center of the box on an assist from Hayley Siegel. Sauerbrunn knocked the ball out of the air with her chest, set herself and finished the short range goal with ease, kick-starting a furious early second half rally for the Black-and-Red.
“When we talked, Mike [Jorden] said ‘Let’s have some people score that don’t normally score’, and he mentioned my name and everyone laughed, ” said Sauerbrunn after the match. “I got a ball out wide, played it in to Hayley [Siegel], and she made an amazing pass to split their center back. I just had to chest it down and beat the goalkeeper.”
Andi Sullivan and Ashley Herndon would follow in the 56th and 58th minute with goals of their own as United Women took a commanding three-goal lead.
When asked what he told the team at halftime, head coach Mike Jorden said, “I told them Atlanta tied. We weren’t playing to form in the first half, and they got one right before halftime which hurt, but I told them what happened and we came out with a new attitude in the second half.”
Sullivan’s goal was of the unassisted variety, coming from the top of the circle as the U-17 U.S. Women’s National Team player one-upped the Olympian with another spectacular finish.
“I’ve been trying to take shots from distance,” said Sullivan. “It kind of ricocheted off their player and I hit it with my right foot and it richoched off a defenders back and thankfully went in. I’m not sure if it would have gone in if she hadn’t been there, so I guess I need to get my shots off a little quicker.”
Herndon’s goal, which came less than two minutes after Sullivan’s, was also an unassisted strike on a remarkable individual effort. The James Madison 2014 commit took on two defenders, beating both of them and cutting through the box before making a move on Dayton goalkeeper Ashley Daniels and rolling it into the right side of the net.
From there, the Black-and-Red nursed its commanding lead for the final 30 minute stretch of the contest and would go on to celebrate another landmark victory on the Maryland SoccerPlex pitch in front of its best crowd of the season with 703 fans in attendance. With one match remaining, the team is still unbeaten in W-League play this season and will look to complete an undefeated regular season with another win over the Virginia Beach Piranhas on Saturday, July 14.
Although the game is technically meaningless in regards to playoff implications from a D.C. United Women perspective, Jorden and company will be trying to pick up right where they left off in order to carry momentum into the postseason.
“With the playoffs two weeks away, we want to keep playing like every game means something,” said Jorden. “We want to keep our rhythm and good going in the right direction, so we’ll go into Virginia Beach and play hard.”
The Eastern Conference Playoffs will take place at the Maryland SoccerPlex from July 21-22. Currently, D.C. United Women are the only team to have secured a playoff berth, with three left slots left unclaimed. The Black-and-Red will either face FASA Impact or the aforementioned Virginia Beach Piranhas in the opening round.