Utah Royals draw 18,015 fans for opening game

Lo’eau LaBonta's early goal gave the Utah Royals a 1-0 win over the Washington Spirit in front of a crowd of 18,015 at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday.



LaBonta scored her first goal for the Royals after just 10 minutes when Christen Press dropped a pass back to the edge of the 18-yard box, where LaBonta fired a right-footed shot inside the near post

For their first game at Rio Tinto Stadium in 2018, the Royals drew 19,203 fans but lost to Chicago, 1-0.

"Tonight we put that right," said Utah coach Laura Harvey, "and I think from the player's perspective, from everyone who works at this club and gives everything every day to see 18,000 people doing the clap at the end is something that’s why you'd wake up at 5 a.m. to go and do your job and get in at midnight. I think that for not just the players not just the coaching staff, but absolutely everybody that works at this club. I think that's just a special moment that we will remember for a long time.”

Saturday’s match served as a send-off for three Royals expected to make the U.S. Women's World Cup team. They are slated to join the national team following the Royals' match next week at the Orlando Pride.

Besides Becky Sauerbrunn and Press, Kelley O’Hara made her 2019 NWSL debut, coming on in the 61st minute  She played just eight matches in 2018 due to a hamstring injury and was limited in preseason by an off-season ankle surgery.

Three other Utah players -- Katie Bowen (New Zealand), Rachel Corsie (Scotland) and Desiree Scott (Canada) -- are in the World Cup plans of their respective countries.

Mandy Laddish made her first Utah appearance, coming off the bench in the 79th minute.  She missed the 2017 and 2018 seasons after two hip surgeries.

April 20 in Sandy, Utah
Utah 1 Washington 0. Goal: LaBonta (Press) 10.
Utah -- Barnhart; Bowen, Sauerbrunn, Corsie, Maemone (O’Hara 61); Scott, Boquete, Jonsdottir, LaBonta (Laddish 79); Rodriguez (Stengel 59), Press.
Washington -- Bledsoe; Huster, Nielsen, Staab, McGrady; Harrison (Dougherty Howard 63), Sullivan, DiBiasi; Pugh, Hatch (Crosson 78), Matthews (Lavelle 46).
Att.: 18,015.
1 comment about "Utah Royals draw 18,015 fans for opening game".
  1. John Soares, April 21, 2019 at 12:56 p.m.

    Royals and Thorns are the women's answer to Sounders and Atlanta of MLS.
    Can only hope/wish others will catch up.:)

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