GERMANTOWN, Md. (Feb. 19) — The Washington Spirit’s preseason schedule just got more exciting, with two more chances for fans to get an early look at the squad, free of charge.
Today we announced the addition of two matches against Duke and Maryland, completing a five-game series against top college opponents that will help prepare the Spirit for their April 14 National Women’s Soccer League season opener at the Boston Breakers.
The Spirit will host Duke at 3 p.m. on March 24 before traveling to Maryland for a 7 p.m. kickoff on April 3 at Ludwig Field, joining home matches against Penn State at 4 p.m. on March 17, North Carolina at 3 p.m. on March 30, and Virginia at 7:30 p.m. on April 6.
The addition of the Maryland game at Ludwig Field places a game “inside the beltway”, a request many fans from the District of Columbia have frequently urged the team to offer.
“A lot of fans – or would be fans – ask why we don’t play at RFK or somewhere else inside the beltway,” explained Spirit General Manager Chris Hummer on the decision to play in College Park. “Those are the ones we want to come out to Ludwig April 3rd in huge numbers so they’ll know this team is worth watching anywhere.”
With the exception of the April 3 match at Maryland, the other four preseason games will take place at the Maryland SoccerPlex. Admission for all five games is free, but fans still need to order them online through the Washington Spirit website (tickets.washingtonspirit.com). All tickets are general admission, with a limit of two per order.
“Duke and Maryland are two excellent additions to our preseason schedule,” Spirit head coach Mike Jorden said. “These matches will give us a great chance to finalize our roster, get ready for the NWSL season and give our fans a preview of the exciting things to come in 2013.”
All five teams on the preseason schedule finished 2012 ranked in the top 16, with North Carolina winning the national title over Penn State. Maryland reached the second round, while Duke fell one game shy of a second straight trip to the Women’s College Cup, dropping an Elite Eight match-up 1-0 against the Nittany Lions.
Duke (Sunday, March 24 @ 3:00 p.m.)
The past two seasons have been tremendous for the Blue Devils, as they reached the championship game in 2011 and enjoyed another deep tournament run last season.
While four-year starter Tara Campbell is no longer in goal and three of four starting defenders will have to be replaced, Duke returns its strike force and most of the midfield from an offense that finished 2012 with the nation’s third-best attack at 2.83 goals per game.
Coach Robbie Church knows solidifying his defense is a major goal, and he’s looking forward to testing his players against the Spirit.
“That’s why we like to go out and challenge ourselves in the springtime and play the best competition possible, so we really get some good experience for these young players,” Church said.
The match will cap a busy weekend for the Blue Devils, as they’ll host the University of Florida that Saturday before making the drive north to Germantown.
Maryland (Wednesday, April 3 @ 7:00 p.m.)
Though the Terps were bounced from the NCAA tournament in the second round, they proved a formidable foe last season, finishing tied with UNC, Virginia and Wake Forest at 6-3-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
They’ll bring back one of the ACC’s best goal-scorers in forward Hayley Brock, a Penn State transfer who found the net 13 times in 21 games, and they’ll look to continue improving a young roster.
With that in mind, the short 30-mile distance between Germantown and UM’s campus in College Park brought an opportunity that was too good for Terrapins head coach Jonathan Morgan to pass up.
“Once the league was announced and we knew there was going to be a team here in the D.C. area, this was something we knew right away would be great for our team,” Morgan said. “It’s something we had done in the past, playing professional teams and having an opportunity for our kids to be exposed against some of the nation’s elite. There couldn’t be a better development tool for us as a coaching staff.”
Fans wishing to attend any of the preseason games need only order and print free tickets from tickets.washingtonspirit.com prior to arriving at the stadium on game day. The April 3 game with Maryland is the only game not being played at the Maryland SoccerPlex, but fans will still need an eTicket or UMD Student ID to enter the match at Ludwig Field in College Park.