D.C. United Headed To Ottawa
D.C. United Women News Release - www.dcunitedwomen.com
Sunday, July 22, 2012
GERMANTOWN, MD - D.C. United Women (13-0-1) defeated the Charlotte Lady Eagles (10-2-2) 3-0 in the Eastern Conference Championship on Sunday afternoon at the Maryland SoccerPlex, capturing their first conference title and securing a spot in Ottawa for the W-League Championships next weekend.
In just their second season as a franchise, D.C. United Women rose to the top of the Eastern Conference going unbeaten in 12 regular season games and two more postseason games. The Black-and-Red defeated the Virginia Beach Piranhas 3-0 on Saturday night in the Eastern Conference Championship Semifinals, and took down the Southeast Division champion Lady Eagles in similar fashion less than a day later in the Final.
“It’s one of those things that’s off in the distance and not really tangible until you get to this very moment,” said team captain Marisa Abegg on winning the Eastern Conference and advancing to Ottawa. “It’s really easy to work with this group of girls because we click so well, on the field and off the field and it’s just been amazing.”
“I feel great,” added second-year head coach Mike Jorden after the match. “We worked so hard, and all these girls do so much to come to training until 11 o’clock at night, putting in all this work so it’s really rewarding to do that.”
In Sunday’s title match, Lianne Sanderson recorded a brace and Hayley Siegel found the net for a second consecutive day. Sanderson opened the scoring in the 28th minute, blasting a shot from the top of the box into the left portion of the net after receiving a cross from defender Molly Menchel.
Siegel would follow up in the 42nd minute, hooking a long-range shot on a free kick from just a few feet in front of the left sideline. The goal was almost identical to one she scored on Saturday in the Semifinal, which marked her first goal of the 2012 season. Siegel, who finished second on the team in assists in the regular season with four, put up five points in two playoff games over the weekend.
Sanderson struck for a second time in the 53rd minute for her ninth goal of the season, tying Mikaela Howell for the team lead and giving D.C. United Women a commanding 3-0 advantage early in the second half. This one would come from short distance in a scrum of players from both teams deep inside the Charlotte penalty area. Sanderson played a deflection off a Lady Eagle defender and knocked the ball past her former Philadelphia Independence teammate, goalkeeper Robyn Jones.
The English striker spoke after the match on how far she and the rest of the United Women squad has come since the summer began:
“As always we’re quietly confident,” said Sanderson. We go out and get the job done. I talked to [Joanna Lohman] this morning and I said ‘I don’t want our season to be over today.’ I feel like we’re just getting on a good run and I think this team has great spirit and we’re coming together.”
Along with the dominant efforts on the offensive side by Siegel and Sanderson, the biggest story of Sunday afternoon was the play of the D.C. United Women defense. The team’s back four posted its conference-high eighth shutout of the season in the Eastern Conference Championship match, and did not allow a goal in either playoff game during the weekend.
“We’ve been organized all year but today they played even better,” said Jorden on the team’s defensive effort. “[Jerica] DeWolfe and Abegg were rocks back there and I thought we moved the ball a little bit better than we have in past games. Our whole back four and midfield worked and did a great job.”
Abegg, who has anchored the United Women defense throughout the season, echoed her coach’s point by crediting the rest of her teammates for the defensive effort, not just the back four.
“It starts all the way in the front with our forwards and it’s an attribute of our entire team to work through everything,” she said.
D.C. United Women will be the No. 2 seed in the W-League Championships in Ottawa from July 27-29, where they will represent the Eastern Conference in the four-team tournament. D.C. will be in a field with No. 1 seed Pali Blues (14-0-1) from the Western Conference, along with fourth-seeded Quebec City Admiral (10-2-2) and host Ottawa Fury (10-2-0) from the Central Conference. United Women have made the final four in just their second season in existence after finishing 2011 outside the playoff picture.
“In general, our whole organization learned a lot last year,” said Coach Jorden after the match. “Chris Hummer our general manager brought in some key players and we brought our core with us from last year, so putting those pieces together and working hard brought us this success.”