D.C. United Women News Release - www.dcunitedwomen.com
Friday, July 27, 2012
OTTAWA, Ont. - At 7:30 p.m. ET tonight D.C. United Women (13-0-1) will try to earn the first of two wins standing in their way from becoming W-League Champions when they take on the host Ottawa Fury (10-2-0) in the league semifinals at Algonquin College Soccer Complex.
It will be the first matchup between the two sides, both of which finished atop their respective conferences in the regular season. The Fury won the bidding for the right to host the W-League Championships before the season began, and went on to dominate the Central Conference and earn the No. 3 seed in the tournament based on that performance. Ottawa will technically be the "away" team this evening as United Women came in as the No. 2 seed.
Ottawa is one of the premier teams in the W-League today, having now won nine consecutive division titles. This year, the Fury boasted the seventh-best scoring offense with 32 regular-season goals, while tying with four other teams (including United Women) for the second-best defense with eight goals allowed. Offensively, the Fury bring to the table a balanced attack led by midfielders Lisa-Marie Woods (5 goals, 2 assists), Kaitlin Ryan (4 goals, 1 assist) and Kelly Conheeney (2 goals, 3 assists), as well as 2011 W-League MVP, forward Mallory Outerbridge (4 goals).
In only their second season of existence, United Women have evolved from a just above .500 team which missed the playoffs in 2011 to the Eastern Conference's top team and the league's overall No. 2 seed at the championships this weekend.
"As a team we've come really far from day one until now and it's so great to have a core group of players on the bus," midfielder Joanna Lohman said. "Once we get on the soccer fields we'll realize the impact that this game can have on the club.
"We're a second-year team so to reach this point has been quite the accomplishment but we're not happy with just getting to Ottawa, we want to win the entire thing, and I think we have the right mix of veteran players and young players to bring the championship back to D.C."
First-year players such as Lohman, Mikaela Howell (9 goals, 7 assists) and Lianne Sanderson (9 goals, 2 assists) have been the difference for D.C. United Women from 2011, but all season long head coach Mike Jorden has credited his core group of returning players as being the glue holding the team together.
Veteran midfielder Hayley Siegel finished second on the team with four assists in the regular season, and put the offense on her back in the Eastern Conference Championship. She scored game-changing set piece goals in both the Conference Semifinal and Final, while adding an assist and helping navigate an attack which scored six unanswered goals in the tournament.
Overall, the offense was one of the most dynamic in the league thanks to Siegel, fellow returning player Ashley Herndon (5 goals, 3 assists) and English-born goal scorers Howell and Sanderson. Also dynamic is the fact that 19 different players have found the back of the net in 2012 for D.C.
However, the strength of the team all season long has been the exceptional back line, anchored by D.C. United Women veterans Marisa Abegg and Jerica DeWolfe, along with newcomer Molly Menchel. The defensive unit finished tied for second in the W-League having conceded only eight regular-season goals, behind only the Pali Blues' three. United Women enter the W-League Championships having not allowed a goal since July 7.
"As far as this weekend, we're extremely excited," Jorden said. "We just need to go out and play our game and force teams to adapt to us. We're peaking at the right time and we're going into this weekend very confident."
"I didn't think we would make it this far [at the beginning of the season] but after playing with the team and seeing us grow and get better every day it really started to become a reality for us," added first year goalkeeper Danielle DeLisle, who earned six wins in net and posted an impressive .348 goals-against average this season.
"The closer it got the more it came to the forefront of my mind and really hoping we'd be able to go to Ottawa and make a difference for this club and women's soccer in general," the University of Virginia netminder continued.
The winner between D.C. United Women and Ottawa Fury will meet the winner of the first semifinal match, which takes place at 4:30 p.m. ET between the Western Conference champion Pali Blues and Central Conference runner-up Quebec City. Both matches will be streamed live at www.uslnation.com.