'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,
"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.
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
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 --
Huster, Nielsen, Staab, McGrady; Harrison (Dougherty Howard 63), Sullivan, DiBiasi; Pugh, Hatch (Crosson 78), Matthews (Lavelle 46). Att.: