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Jul 14, 2020

Former Clemson Stars Clash in NWSL Challenge Cup Quarterfinal

Clemson, S.C. – With the preliminary round of the NWSL Challenge Cup coming to a close on Monday night and final seeding coming to fruition, two former Tigers will square off in the quarterfinals as the No. 2 Washington Spirit face No. 7 Sky Blue FC on Saturday, July 18 at 12:30 p.m. ET. Live coverage of the match can be accessed through CBS All Access. 

The NWSL Challenge Cup, which is being held in Herriman, Utah, welcomed eight teams to Zions Bank Field for the preliminary round as each team played four opening games to decide bracket seeding. The tournament will move to Rio Tinto Stadium for the semifinals and championship game with the final match being aired on both CBS and CBS All Access. 

Sam Staab, who was selected fourth overall by the Spirit in the 2019 NWSL College Draft, became just the second rookie in NWSL history to play every second of her team’s season as she recorded 90 minutes in all 24 Spirit matches in 2019. As one of the top defenders in the NWSL, Staab was additionally named a finalist for the NWSL Rookie of the Year in 2019 alongside her teammate Jordan DiBiasi.

Keeping on track with her rookie campaign, Staab has played 90 minutes in all preliminary matches and notched the tying goal against the Portland Thorns in the 77th minute off a deep header over the defense. Through the Spirit’s first four games in the Challenge Cup, Staab has maintained an 85.3% pass completion rate across 211 passes. The Spirit enter the quarterfinal match against Sky Blue with a 2-1-1 record. 

Kailen Sheridan, a 2019 Goalkeeper of the Year finalist, has continued to build off last season’s success. In 2019, Sheridan finished first in the league for saves (86) and saves-to-shots ratio across 19 games. Last season also brought Sheridan a spot on Canada’s 23-player squad for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup – TSN Sports later announced the former Tiger as the sixth-ranked Canadian women’s soccer player, the highest-ranked goalkeeper on its list. 

Following the preliminary round, Sheridan leads all NWSL keepers with 14 saves and has tallied two clean sheets. Sky Blue enters the match against the Spirit with a 1-2-1 record. 

For more information regarding the NWSL Challenge Cup, visit

Quick Notes

Both Staab and Sheridan were members of the 2016 Clemson team that claimed the ACC regular season championship title and a trip to the Sweet Sixteen, Staab a sophomore and Sheridan a senior. The two both went on to earn All-ACC and NSCAA All-Region postseason awards that season as well.