Sky Blue FC knocked the second-seeded Washington Spirit out of the NWSL Challenge Cup on Saturday, winning a shootout after 90 scoreless minutes in a quarterfinal matchup. Sky Blue won, 4-3, in penalty kicks as goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan saved a shot from Bayley Feist to clinch the victory and send her team to the semifinals.
Sky Blue will face either the Chicago Red Stars or OL Reign in the semifinals, and the Spirit's loss means both of the tournament's top two seeds were knocked out in the quarterfinals. The Portland Thorns beat the top-seeded North Carolina Courage on Friday.
The Spirit had more chances in regulation. They outshout Sky Blue, 12-8, and Washington put seven shots on goal. The game was the second in a row to go to penalties after a scoreless 90 minutes in the Challenge Cup. The Houston Dash beat the Utah Royals in a shootout on Friday night, and they'll face the Thorns in the bracket's other semifinal on Wednesday.
The Red Stars and Reign play Saturday night in the fourth and final quarterfinal, and every game of the 2020 Challenge Cup is streaming on CBS All Access.
Spirit 0, Sky Blue 0 (Sky Blue win, 4-3, on PKs)
Washington Spirit: Head coach Richie Burke and his young team are out of the Challenge Cup. The team did impress during the tournament going head to head with top-tier teams and earning that second seed. After North Carolina's exit, the Spirit were looked to as the team to beat, with several notable performances from the team throughout group play. However, a meniscus tear forced an early exit for team captain and midfielder Andi Sullivan, along with a minutes restriction with Rose Lavelle. In post game comments, Burke specifically mentioned that Lavelle was limited to 30 minutes by US Soccer. Despite the setback, the Spirit's offensive shape was there throughout the entire game, with several opportunities on goal. They just weren't able to finish.
Sky Blue FC: First-year head Coach Freya Coombe has won her first NWSL playoff game with Sky Blue FC. The team's lineup saw the return of Midge Purce, who was kept out last match as a precaution. Sky Blue conceded a bit more possession today than they've typically done during the tournament in an effort to play more fluidly and push for opportunities on goal. The substitutions from Coombe helped match the rhythm of the game, including a good performance from Sabrina Flores who helped their defensive shape while inserting herself in the attack. However it was an outstanding performance in net, during regulation and penalties, from Kailen Sheridan that pushed Sky Blue FC into the semifinals.