With the D.C. United Women locked in a 1-1 tie at halftime with the visiting Dayton Dutch Lions Saturday at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, coach Mike Jorden motivated his team with one brief statement.
“I told them Atlanta tied,” Jorden said in a news release.
After winning the W-League Atlantic Division with a July 1 win over the Fredericksburg Impact, the Black-and-Red's fate was in its own hands; the United Women had to win their remaining three regular-season games to finish with an Eastern Conference-best record and earn the right to host the Eastern Conference playoffs.
But second-place Atlanta's tie meant the United Women could clinch the conference with a win Saturday.
The United Women scored three times early in the second half to seal the 4-1 victory and ensure home advantage for conference playoffs.
The conference tournament is scheduled for July 21-22 at the SoccerPlex.
D.C. is the only team to have secured its spot in the four-team conference playoff.
“We weren't playing to form in the first half and they got one right before halftime which hurt but I told them what happened and we came out with a new attitude in the second half,” Jorden said. “It feels good that we were able to get that done and we're happy we were able to clinch [Saturday]. I hope everyone gets behind us [for the playoffs], because it's great when they do and the players like to have a packed house like we had [Saturday]. We just hope to keep bringing in the soccer fans.”
Lianne Sanderson's goal in the 34th minute put D.C. up early. But Dayton midfielder Jen Agueci's goal in stoppage time evened the score at 1-1 at halftime.
Olympian Becky Sauerbrunn's first goal of the season in the 53rd minute gave the United Women the lead for good.
Ashley Herndon and Andi Sullivan also scored.
The United Women will travel to Virginia Beach July 14 in their regular season finale.
“With the playoffs two weeks away we want to keep playing like every game mean's something,” Jorden said. “We want to keep our rhythm and [keep] going in the right direction.”