10/07/2016 1:45 PM
The Western New York Flash have made the 2016 NWSL Championship, and they’ll be taking on the Washington Spirit on Sunday. Get a better look at the Thorns before the Sunday’s Championship kicks off at 5:00 ET:
A Closer Look at the Spirit:
Goals For: 37
Goals Against: 10
Goal Differential: +17
League Rank: 2
Record vs. the Flash: 1-0-1
This weekend’s matchup will be a bit different from last week’s matchup in Portland, with a couple changes in the opponent’s style of play and formation. The Spirit will roll with a 4-3-3 formation, highlighted by their strong midfield of Tori Huster, Joanna Lohman and Christine Nairn. Up top, the Spirit will have U.S. National Team member Crystal Dunn trying to use her quickness to find a way to the Flash’s net.
The Flash will be looking to keep scoring the ball, lead by 2016 NWSL MVP Lynn Williams and her partner Jess McDonald in their 4-4-2 formation. The duo combined for two goals an assist in the Flash’s semifinal win in Portland. On the back end, Sabrina D’Angelo will be looking to keep the Flash’s net empty and build off of her career-high seven save performance against the Thorns.
Washington has two above-average goalkeepers, and head coach Jim Gabarra will have a decision to make on Sunday. The Spirit’s goaltending corps feature former Flash keeper Kelsey Wys, the starter in their 2-1 (ET) win over Chicago this past Friday, and Canadian National Team keeper Stephanie Labbé. Despite Labbé winning a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Wys has been the starter during and since the NWSL Olympic Break.
Player GP GS Min GA GAA Sh SOG Sv%
Stephanie Labbé 8 8 720 7 0.88 71 30 80%
Kelsey Wys 12 12 1080 14 1.17 163 75 81%
The Flash and the Spirit have each played one match in Houston this season, with both affairs playing out to be exciting, high-octane matches. The Spirit’s match with the Dash on August 18 featured 35 shots – 19 by Washington – and resulted in a 2-1 Spirit win. Nairn and Katie Stengel each registered four shots, and Nairn scored both of the Spirit’s goals.
The Flash’s match at BBVA Compass Stadium was considered to be one of the games of the year, as both teams went flying up and down the field with opportunities galore. The match ended just after Williams converted a beautiful play in the waning minutes of the game to secure a 3-3 draw.
Be sure to catch the match this Sunday, October 9, on Fox Sports 1 at 5:00 p.m. ET.
The Flash will be hosting a watch party at Mes Que on Hertel Avenue in Buffalo on Sunday, and those who cannot attend can follow live updates on Twitter at @WNYFlash.