May 11, 2001

San Diego Spirit Gets First Win Over Freedom

The San Diego Spirit scored the first goals and recorded the first victory in franchise history as Shannon MacMillan scored once in each half to lead the Spirit to a 2-0 victory over the Washington Freedom.

The Spirit played in front of the second straight home sellout crowd at Torero Stadium as 6,155 fans saw MacMillan streak by the Freedom defense for both of her goals. It was the first multiple-goal game and multiple-assist game in WUSA history as Julie Foudy picked up assists on both goals.

The first goal came in the 33rd minute, courtesy of a nice piece of skill from MacMillan's strike partner Traci Arkenberg, who made a tough collection about 40 yards from goal while receiving a long ball. She popped the ball in the air, and then without letting it bounce, played MacMillan behind the Freedom defense. With Freedom defender Lindsay Stoeck-er glued to her hip, MacMillan powered her dribble into the penalty area and slotted ball past the sliding Freedom goalkeeper Siri Mullinix and into the lower right corner. MacMillan sprinted to the stands and jumped on a ledge to high five the fans before being engulfed by her teammates.

"We've been hitting the posts too much, but I guess we were saving (the goals) for the home crowd," said MacMillan. "They really have been supporting us. After two sellouts they deserved the goal just as much as we did. I just wanted to give them all high fives."

The goal broke a 213-minute scoreless streak for the Spirit, who had failed to score in the first two matches. The Spirit improved its record to 1-1-1 and now has four points.

"All the build up is behind us now," said Spirit head coach Carlos Juarez. "All the hoopla of getting the league started is over so we can just concentrate on playing our game. We won as a team. We have been on the verge of taking advantage of our opportunities and it came together tonight."

San Diego out-shot Washington 13-6 and got a deserved second goal just three minutes from time as the Spirit caught the Freedom defense pushing up. Spirit captain Julie Foudy played MacMillan behind the defense with a perfect through ball and she drove in on goal in the right side of the penalty box, drawing Mullinix out before deftly lifting the ball over the sliding goalkeeper from seven yards out.

The Spirit defense of Rhian-non Tanaka, Kim Pickup, Fan Yunjie and Kristin Bengtsson played extremely well, limiting Washington to just three shots on goal, all easily saved by Jaime Pagliarulo, who picked up her second straight shutout. The Spirit now has a streak of 208 minutes in which they have not allowed a goal.

Spirit defender Fan Yunjie was again spectacular, thwarting Hamm in one-on-on confrontations on several occasions late in the match. Spirit midfielder Jen Mascaro also did a fine job of keeping tabs on Hamm, who took just one shot in the game, that in the 90th minute, as both battled on the flank until Mascaro left the game in the 70th minute.

"The monkey is off our back," added MacMillan. "We knew it was just a matter of time but our defense really played great. My hat goes off to them. We shut them down. Our plan was to make Mia play defense. If she has to go back on defense, she is going to have a hard time playing offense."

MacMillan was a menace all night, taking all five of the Spirit's shots on goal and seven total shots. In the 55th minute, she got behind the defense and turned well on the volley, but Mullinix gathered the ball at the near post. Ten minutes later, MacMillan sidestepped a defender in the right corner of the penalty area and smacked a wicked left-footed shot that Mullinix had to slap away.

At the 59th minutue of the game MacMillan completed her double and the Spirit held on for the historic first victory in team history. San Diego will travel to Atlanta for its next game on Saturday, May 12 at Bobby Dodd Stadium in the Spirit's first-ever nationally televised game. The match will be seen live on TNT at 9 a.m.

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