SANDY, Utah (Saturday, April 20, 2019) – Utah Royals FC (1-0-0, 3 points) got an early goal and held on to the clean sheet to open the 2019 season with a 1-0 win over the Washington Spirit in front of a crowd of 18,015 at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday.
MF Lo’eau LaBonta scored her first goal for URFC and GK Nicole Barnhart finished with two saves in the shutout victory.
Utah opened scoring just 10 minutes into the match when FW Christen Press charged up the left side, then cut back to the middle before dropping a pass back to LaBonta at the edge of the 18-yard box. LaBonta fired a right-footed shot inside the near post for her first goal in a URFC kit. Royals FC would go on to outshoot Washington 5-2 in the half, but the score remained at 1-0 heading into the half.
In the second half, Utah forced Washington goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe into three saves, but couldn’t add to the lead. Press was a threat throughout the night, finishing the match with five shots, in addition to setting up the game-winner in the first half. In the end, Utah held off Washington and earned the 1-0 victory.
UP NEXT: Royals FC heads to Florida for its first road match on the season on April 27 against the Orlando Pride. Kickoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. MT with a live local broadcast on KMYU and the KSL TV app, as well as on the Yahoo Sports app.
GOAL SCORING RUNDOWN:
UTA: Lo’eau LaBonta (Christen Press) 10th minute – Christen Press carried the ball into the box up the left side, then cut back toward the middle of the box. With the defense collapsing on her, she found Lo’eau LaBonta at the edge of the 18 for a right-footed shot that beat the keeper for a 1-0 lead.
- Saturday’s match served as a send-off for players potentially heading to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France. Players who are joining the U.S. National Team are scheduled to depart following URFC’s road match next week against the Orlando Pride.
- MF Lo’eau LaBonta’s goal was her first in a Utah Royals FC uniform.
- DF Kelley O’Hara made her return to the pitch in the 61st minute to a rousing ovation from the crowd. She played just eight matches in 2018 due to a hamstring injury and was limited in preseason by an off-season ankle surgery.
- DF Michelle Maemone got the start in her first NWSL match. Maemone was the fifth pick in the third round (23rd overall) of the 2019 NWSL Draft out of Pepperdine.
- MF Mandy Laddish made her first URFC appearance, coming off the bench in the 79th minute. She missed the 2017 and 2018 seasons after two hip surgeries. Her last appearance was on September 11, 2016, putting 952 days between her two appearances.
Match: Utah Royals FC vs. Washington Spirit
Date: April 20, 2019
Venue: Rio Tinto Stadium; Sandy, Utah
Weather: Cloudy and 68
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
Utah Royals FC 1 0 1
Washington Spirit 0 0 0
UTA: Lo’eau LaBonta (Christen Press) 10’
Utah Royals FC (4-4-2): Nicole Barnhart; Katie Bowen, Becky Sauerbrunn, Rachel Corsie, Michelle Maemone (Kelley O’Hara 61’); Desiree Scott, Vero Boquete, Gunny Jónsdóttir, Lo’eau LaBonta (Mandy Laddish 79’); Amy Rodriguez (Katie Stengel 59’), Christen Press.
Subs not used: Abby Smith, Makenzy Doniak, Gaby Vincent, Erika Tymrak
Washington Spirit: (4-4-2): Aubrey Bledsoe; Tori Huster, Paige Nielsen, Samantha Staab, Tegan McGrady; Amy Harrison (Meggie Dougherty Howard 63’), Andi Sullivan, Jordan Dibiasi; Mallory Pugh, Ashley Hatch (Megan Crosson 78’), Cheyna Matthews (Rose Lavelle 46’).
Subs not used: Arielle Ship, Cali Farquharson, Dorian Bailey, Shae Yanez.
Stats Summary: UTA / WAS
Shots: 12 / 6
Shots on Goal: 4 / 2
Saves: 2 / 3
Corner Kicks: 6 / 3
Fouls: 10 / 8
Offside: 1 / 1
WAS: Cheyna Matthews (caution) 26’
Referee: Ekaterina Koroleva
Assistant Referees: Adrienne McDonald, Jeffrey Swartzel
4th Official: Joshua Mills