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Utah Royals FC open season with 1-0 home win over Washington Spirit

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Utah opened the season a week after the rest of the league — and with a huge win.

Cindy Lara | RSL Soapbox

Utah Royals FC kicked off their 2019 campaign at home with a win over the Washington Spirit.

Starting a week after the rest of the league, Utah was given ample time to prepare for the Saturday evening match.

URFC came out on fire getting their first goal of the season just 10 minutes in. Off a tireless effort from Christen Press to keep the ball in the 18 yard box, Press laid the ball off to Lo’eau Labonta who smashed it right past Spirit keeper Aubrey Bledsoe. This gave Utah the early lead and gave them a comfortable first half. Despite not having the majority of possession, Utah seemed to be in control of this match early.

The remainder of the half was relatively uneventful, Utah continued to press but was unsuccessful in finding another goal. Utah got 5 shots on goal in the first half, but just one on goal. Spirit striker Cheyna Matthews was shown yellow in the 26th minute after a bad foul.

Coming out of halftime Washington subbed off Cheyna Matthews to bring on US international Rose Lavelle.

The match stayed relatively calm after halftime. Katie Stengel subbed on in the 58th minute for Amy Rodriguez, followed shortly by a swap of Kelley O’hara for Michelle Maemone in the 61’.

Christen Press was a light in Utah’s attack for the full 90 minutes. She worked tirelessly and created nearly all of Utah’s chances.

Another shining moment in this game was the return of Mandy Laddish. Subbing on for Labonta in the 79’ she returned to play for the first time in 952 days.

In the final 10 minutes of this one Utah showed some of their strongest efforts of the night, both offensively and defensively. Both teams were heating up and creating a lot of chances, though simultaneously both teams defenses were rising to the occasion. This match ends 1-0 in favor of Utah.