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Spirit leave it late to notch 1-0 franchise opening win over Penn State

It took all of 86 minutes, of high paced action in both directions, but the Washington Spirit finally put the ball in the net to seal a first win in their first game of any kind today in front of 671 fans at the Maryland SoccerPlex. The goal that will go down in history as the first for the newly christened professional outfit, was scored by preseason training camp trialist Olivia Wagner, pouncing on a loose ball in the box off fellow first team hopeful Ari Calderon’s corner kick.

It was far from the only shot for the Spirit, but Penn State’s Britt Eckerstrom and the Nittany Lion goal posts combine to thwart a vigorous and diverse Spirit attack from all angles. In all the new pro side registered 33 shots on the cold afternoon, with the 2012 College Cup Finalist Lions finding room for 10 of their own.

Penn State’s Mia Hayes had two golden chances in the second half to make the Spirit pay for their lack of finishing sharpness with break-a-ways roughly 10 minutes apart, but former Virginian net minder Chantel Jones came up huge stopping and holding point blank attempts by the prolific speedster. Jones was strong all afternoon, registering four saves in all, three from Hayes, and one from Tani Costa.

Fans braved near freezing temperatures and a forecast of snow to grace the stands of the Maryland SoccerPlex for the first Spirit game in history. It was an impressive turnout from the nearly 1700 free tickets claimed online since the home team announced their “Free Spirit” preseason college exhibition series.

Fans who missed today’s match can listen to a reply here: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/washingtonspirit

The Spirit were without their contingent of allocated players from the US, Canadian, and Mexican teams, as all three teams just completed international tournaments in the past week. Global soccer stars Ali Krieger (USA) and Diana Matheson (Canada) and their teammates are expected to join the Spirit this week in training and compete next weekend.

The Spirit continue their preseason next Sunday, taking on the Duke Blue Devils at 3:00 p.m. Tickets for the match as well as the following three college games are all free. Fans need only register online in advance at tickets.washingtonspirit.com or fill out a short form at the gate on game day. Washington opens their first NWSL season at home on April 20, hosting Abby Wambach and her Western New York Flash, followed by three straight NWSL games on three consecutive weekends.

Match Report

Home Team: Washington Spirit 1
Visiting Team: Penn State 0

Date: Mar 17, 2013
Competition: Exhibition
Venue: Maryland SoccerPlex: 11 (Stadium)
Kickoff: 4:00 pm
Regulation Length: 90
Attendance: 671
Weather: Cloudy, Cold

Lineups
Spirit: Jones, Weigel (Siegel 45), Toulouse, Anderson (Cooke 70), Hubka, Roberts (Wagner 55), Hodak, Wells (Calderon 70), McCarty (Brandt 64), Mischler (Miller 30), Ochs (Williams 45)
PSU: Eckerstrom, Kehoe (Williford 45), Chase (Petterson 73), Hovington, Persson, Hurd, Schran, Church, Costa (Kalwa 76), Weber, Hayes

GOALS (Assists/2nd Assists)
Minute 86 – Washington Spirit – Olivia Wagner (Ari Calderon)

TEAM STATISTICS
Washington Spirit / Penn State
Shots: 33 / 10
Shots on Goal: 12 / 4
Saves: 4 / 12
Corner Kicks: 6 / 4
Fouls: 8 / 1
Offside: 4 / 2
Yellow Cards: 0 / 0
Red Cards: 0 / 0