Preparations for the Washington Spirit’s inaugural season in the National Women’s Soccer League continues this weekend, as the Duke women’s soccer team visits the Maryland SoccerPlex on Saturday, March 24 at 3:00 p.m.
The Spirit won its opening preseason match last weekend at the SoccerPlex 1-0 against Penn State, and faces a Duke team which returns seven starters from last fall’s side that came one game shy of a spot in the College Cup, losing in the quarterfinals against the Nittany Lions.
Among those returning to Duke in the spring includes leading scorer Laura Weinberg (16 goals, 12 assists), 16-goal scorer and forward Kim DeCesare, forward Mollie Pathman, who won the U20 World Cup with the United States last fall, freshman midfielder Cassie Pecht, who led the team with 15 assists and was one of the best first-year players in college soccer in 2012 and U.S. U23 WNT defender Natasha Anasi.
The Spirit will also have a different look Sunday, following the addition of six players who were not in preseason camp for last weekend’s Penn State win. Five national team players and college 3rd round draft pick Holly King, who is home on spring break from Florida, will be in uniform Sunday.
Headlining the new arrivals is U.S. Women’s National Team star Ali Krieger, who joined training with her U.S. Teammates Ashlyn Harris and Lori Lindsey on Wednesday following an agreement between their players union and U.S. Soccer on the framework of a new collective bargaining agreement. Joining the three Americans are the Spirit’s two Canadian National Team allocations Diana Matheson and Robyn Gayle, who each arrived in Washington on Tuesday, but needed to complete physicals and other contract paperwork before joining training Thursday.
The new look Spirit will face a Blue Devils team that compiled a record of 15-6-2 during the 2012 season, finishing third place in the ACC with a 5-3-2 conference record and coming up just short of a trip to San Diego. The match-up with the Spirit will the team’s third game of its spring season.
“It’s a bonus to have a game with a women’s professional team,” Duke head coach Robbie Church said in a press release. “We have a number of juniors that would like to look into that league, so it gives them a chance to see what playing professional soccer is like and it gives us a chance to show off our players for next year’s draft.”
Tickets to the Spirit’s preseason college exhibition series are all free, with seats still available for Sunday’s visit from Duke by visiting http://tickets.washingtonspirit.com. Other upcoming preseason games against North Carolina (March 30), at Maryland (April 3) and against Virginia (April 6) also have tickets available, with next Saturday’s UNC match up leading the pack with over 2,300 tickets claimed to date. Walk-ups are also welcome, and all seating is general admission.
The NWSL season opens for the Spirit on April 14 on the road against the Boston Breakers, before opening up the home schedule with four straight games at the SoccerPlex, starting on April 20 against Abby Wambach and the Western NY Flash. Season and single game tickets for each individual home game are on sale at https://washingtonspir.wpengine.com/tickets/.