In their first home game of the season, Baltimore Brave players Brooke Griffin (3g, 1a), Jenna Collins (3g, 1a), Amanda Johansen (3g), Karri Ellen Johnson (3g), Laura Zimmerman (2g, 3a), Dana Dobbie 2, and Alyssa Leonard (1g, 1a) proved their offensive prowess, overcoming the visiting Philadelphia Fire 20-12 in the pairs first ever match up. A strong Philly defense, led by Holly Reilly (Princeton 2009), Courtney Waite (UNC 2015) and arguably the highest drafted keepers in the WPLL Caylee Waters (UNC 2017) and Gussie Johns (USC 2018) could not contain the Brave, who placed 33 of their 39 shots on net.
The Fire came out on top of the first quarter, starting off scoring with a Lauren Kahn (UConn 2014) bounce shot two minutes in to the game. Less than thirty second later Jenna Collins, a 2018 Navy graduate that was playing professionally on her college home field, tallied the Brave's first goal, followed by a goal from Brave teammate Brooke Griffin (Maryland 2015). The Fire fired back, with attacker Casey Bocklet (UVA 2015) scoring her first goal at the 5:49 mark, and midfielder Emily Gillingham (Towson, 2018) finding the back of the net at the 5:09 mark. Collins responded with a beautiful unassisted goal, and the fourth quarter ended with Duke 2018 graduate Maddie Crutchfield burying a shot for the Fire. The Fire came out on top of the first quarter 4-3, but the game was far from over.
Brave midfielder Amanda Johansen kicked off scoring in the second quarter, launching a highlight-reel caliber shot past the Philly keeper and tying the score at 4-4 at the 13:01 mark. Fire midfielder and draw specialist Abbie Burgess then scored off of a feed from teammate Maddie Crutchfield, giving the Fire their last lead of the game at 5-4. From then on, the game seemed to belong to the Brave, who would go on to score the game's next 9 goals. This streak is due greatly to incredible goalkeeping and leadership from Baltimore's Kelsea Donnelly (Towson 2017), who turned away 15 shots. A strong Baltimore defense led by Taylor Thornton (Northwestern 13) and Kelsey Sheridan (UMass 14) stifled several Fire scoring opportunities, with Thornton coming up with 5 ground balls on the day. The Fire defense was especially effective when it came to limiting Fire attacker Danielle Etrasco's scoring opportunities, as the team USA veteran was held scoreless on the day.
The Fire saw the start of a comeback in the fourth quarter, but at that point it was too late to overcome the 18-7 lead that the Brave established. Though the Fire went on to score five goals in the fourth quarter, a win was not in the cards for them. Baltimore was no doubt inspired by the home-team fans that turned out to cheer them on in their first game. The confidence and never-say-die mentality that Philly played with during the final quarter shows that this team has the drive and the talent to put together an exciting season. Statistically Philly won the first and fourth quarters, but could not match the offensive output of the Brave during the second and third quarters.