Boyds, Md (March 23, 2014) – The Washington Spirit started their preseason with a 2-0 win against the University of North Carolina (UNC) on Saturday, March 22, 2014. The weather helped turn out 2,534 excited fans to the Maryland SoccerPlex. The match began at 63°F and sunny at kickoff.
The first half of the match proved be frustrating for both teams as they each only had a couple of chances at goal. The Spirit had one of those chances in the 20th minute when defender Tori Huster passed the ball to striker Tiffany Weimer. Weimer broke away with the ball beating the UNC midfield. As she approached the UNC goal she found herself going against captain and midfielder Brooke Elby and defender Satara Murray. Weimer was able to beat both players and send a pass to striker Renae Cuellar. Cuellar was unable to fend off defender Hanna Gardner and the chance to get on the scoreboard was lost.
Both teams’ passing skills were up for the challenge as the battle played on in the first 45. The continuous back and forth by each side had the fans at the edge of their seats as each closed in on a possible chance as the minutes passed, yet neither side was able to finish.
The second half opened with general manager and head coach Mark Parsons making four substitutions for the Spirit. Angeli, Cuellar, Morris and Pressley came off the field and internationals Jodi Taylor from England and Cecilie Sandvej from Denmark went in along with Lori Lindsey and US Women’s National Team defender Ali Krieger.
There were four shots on goal for the Spirit in the second half and one for UNC. The first 20 minutes of the second half picked up where the first half left off. There was a lot great passing for both teams. UNC made their first substitutions ten minutes into the half; bringing in midfielders Worth and Nielsen and taking out forwards Bruder and Green.
The momentum shifted in the last 25 minutes of the match. The Spirit brought in Canadian Women’s Nations Team midfielder Diana Matheson and goalkeeper Adelaide Gay in the 66th minute. With only three minutes in the match, Matheson found the perfect chance. In the 69th minute Matheson found herself in the UNC 30 yard line she able to beat the defense on the right flanks and shot a ball that got passed UNC goalkeeper Lindsey Harris. The crowd roared as the ball went into the lower left corner and hit the back of the net.
Encouraged by the fans the Washington Spirit pushed on as midfielder Yael Averbuch sent a strong shot just above the goal in the 73rd. The last goal of the evening came in the 89th minute from a combination that many Spirit fans have been anxious to see. Matheson had a ran through with the ball at midfield and quickly passed to Weimer. Weimer, who was inside the 18th took a shot that flew past goalkeeper Harris. There were two minutes added and the match ended with a Spirit win.
“It was great to play with Diana and Jodi for the first time. Everyone clicked a bit tonight. It was really cool to see,” said Spirit striker Tiffany Weimer. “We’re two weeks in and there are already some really good things happening out on the pitch.”
The Washington Spirit face the University of Virginia in their next preseason match. The match starts at 7pm ET at the Maryland SoccerPlex. Tickets are free and can be obtained online at: https://tickets.washingtonspirit.com/