Charlotte, D.C. United Women Advance
Meet Sunday for Eastern Conference Championship, 4 p.m. ET
D.C. United Women News Release - www.dcunitedwomen.com
Saturday, July 21, 2012
GERMANTOWN, MD - The Eastern Conference’s top two seeds each won in dominating fashion in the semifinal round of the 2012 W-League Eastern Conference Championships Saturday at the Maryland SoccerPlex, with D.C. United Women and the Charlotte Lady Eagles securing their spots in the title match set for Sunday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. ET.
Charlotte, the Southeast Division champion, blanked the Northeast Division champion Long Island Rough Riders 4-0 in the first leg of the semifinals doubleheader on a brace from Amanda Naeher. The Messiah College midfielder had an explosive performance scoring two first-half goals, the first of which came just five minutes into the first match. She would strike again in the 44th minute to give the Lady Eagles a two-goal halftime lead and all the momentum they would need to cruise to a convincing victory.
Macky Wingo and Rachel Baer scored second half goals for Charlotte, and Gloria Douglas, Ashley Braam, Paige Lanter and Naeher recorded assists. With the win, Charlotte has made team history by advancing to its first conference championship game since joining the W-League in 2003.
The tournament’s top seed and host D.C. United Women won the night cap of the semifinals doubleheader 3-0 over Atlantic Division runner-up Virginia Beach. The match was the fourth meeting between the two sides, second in the past week, and once again the result was no different. United Women shut the Piranhas out in Virginia Beach last Saturday and were able to repeat their performance thanks to another stifling effort by the back line and a steady attack on the offensive side.
Hayley Siegel broke the game open by scoring her first goal of the season in the 23rd minute, and would end up adding an assist as well for a career-best three-point performance. Lianne Sanderson continued her hot scoring pace with a goal in stoppage time of the first half as the Black-and-Red took a 2-0 lead into the intermission.
In the second half, Joanna Lohman notched her first D.C. United Women goal on an assist from her longtime teammate Sanderson in the 80th minute. Meanwhile, the team’s back line locked in defensively and held the Piranhas’ scorers to just five total shots.
D.C. United Women have advanced to the Eastern Conference Final in just their second year as a franchise after missing the playoffs in their inaugural season last summer. Head Coach Mike Jorden credits the success to the contributions the team has received from its core group of veteran leaders.
"It feels great, I give the players so much credit," said Jorden on advancing to the championship match. "We kept focus and as a group collectively, know what the job ahead is. We have a lot of veterans on this team, which helps in games like this and I’m proud of them."
Despite tearing through competition in the Atlantic Division this season, the D.C. United Women players are looking forward to a hard-fought title match on Sunday against the dangerous Lady Eagles. Sanderson, who scored her seventh goal of the season Saturday night, said she is ready to play an unfamiliar opponent after facing the Piranhas for a fourth time in a 12-game stretch.
"We’re expecting a really tough game, we’ve been hearing about Charlotte for a while," said Sanderson. "Like today, it’s one game and it comes in one day so you never know what’s going to happen. But I think if we play our game we can beat them."
"I saw a lot of pace and a lot of youth," added Jorden, speaking about the Lady Eagles, whom he scouted on Saturday afternoon. "Long Island’s got a great history in the W-League, and to lose 4-0 that says something for Charlotte. We’re just going to try to match up with them and see what happens tomorrow."
Charlotte and D.C. will square off at the Maryland SoccerPlex at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday to decide who earns the title of Eastern Conference Champion. The winner will earn a spot in Ottawa for the W-League Championships next weekend, from July 27-29. Tickets for Sunday’s title match can be purchased at: https://tickets.dcunitedwomen.com/ for $5 less than box office prices.