The Washington Spirit (3-14-4, 13 points) captured their second straight victory with a 1-0 shutout of Seattle Reign FC (5-13-3, 18 points) before 4,549 at Maureen Hendricks Field at Maryland SoccerPlex in a match nationally televised by FOX Soccer.
Diana Matheson scored the lone goal in the 83rd minute, pushing to the end line on the right side and slipping a shot past Seattle goalkeeper Hope Solo just inside the far post to cap off a gorgeous evening.
“The most important thing is the people that have worked unselfishly, tirelessly all season and not got much in return,” Spirit coach Mark Parsons said following the team’s first back-to-back wins of the season. “That’s been our motivation, just like the fans have been. Tonight was absolutely incredible.”
It was also the second straight clean sheet for the Spirit, this time earned by goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris, who returned to net after a two-game absence and finished with five saves.
“Mark has come in and he has given his heart to this club,” Harris said. “We owe it to him to give him points and to show our appreciation because he has done a fantastic job with this team. I’m honored to play for him. He’s one of the best around, in my opinion, and one of the best in league. We really lucked out with him.”
Parsons got the most from his veterans and new faces against the Reign. In front of Harris, Ali Krieger, Tori Huster, Marisa Abegg and Robyn Gayle formed the back line. Julia Roberts, Lori Lindsey and Lupita Worbis opened in the midfield while Matheson, Stephanie Ochs and Conny Pohlers started at forward.
Pohlers came within inches of putting Washington in front in the 12th minute. Flipped a pass over the Seattle back line by Matheson, the German forward connected with a right-footed strike, but Solo dove to her right, making one of the most spectacular saves of the season.
Pohlers also appeared to score in the 33rd minute when she redirected Ochs’ shot from the top of the box but was offside.
After a scoreless opening half, the teams took turns pressuring the opposition. Jessica Fishlock nicked the outside of the post with a bending effort. Harris then got down to her left for her best save of the night, stopping Megan Rapinoe, who spent much of the evening battling with Krieger, her U.S. teammate. Maryland native Christine Nairn (three shots) also took a number of chances from distance. Abegg, in her third start and fourth game overall, was solid in a central defensive pairing with Huster.
After shooting right at Solo in the 64th minute, Matheson didn’t make the same mistake when a loose ball led to a similar chance 18 minutes later, picking up her team-high eighth goal.
“I think it took a few bounces, squirted through their center backs, went off a few shins,” Matheson said. “I just tried to put it lower far corner.”
The Spirit will go for three in a row to conclude the NWSL season when they host Sky Blue FC on Sunday, August 18, at 5 p.m. at the SoccerPlex’s Maureen Hendricks Field. Limited tickets are available at: https://tickets.washingtonspirit.com.