BOYDS, MARYLAND – Fielding a lineup mirroring one that could easily start the NWSL season April 14, the Washington Spirit battled the Duke Blue Devils to a entertaining, yet disappointing 0-0 draw in front of 544 fans at the Maryland SoccerPlex home today. The match is the second of a five-game preseason college exhibition series planned by the Spirit as they prepare for their first season in the National Women’s Soccer League.
All games in the series are free to attend, with the Spirit taking on the defending National Champion North Carolina on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. at the SoccerPlex. Over 2,200 tickets have been claimed for the match so far; with fans wishing to attend only needing to claim passes at tickets.washingtonspirit.com.
Playing in their only game of the preseason due to upcoming national team games, Ali Krieger, Ashlyn Harris, Diana Matheson, and Robyn Gayle all started in Mike Jorden’s 4-3-3 formation. It was also the debut for U.S. international Lori Lindsey, who is expected to remain with her Spirit teammates for the duration of preseason, barring a late call-up.
Florida draftee Holly King also made an appearance today while home on spring break. The third round draft pick is finishing school before joining the Spirit full time in May.
Washington got off to a quick start, pressuring the Blue Devil goal very early, but much like the story last weekend against Penn State, the Spirit’s finishing was not sharp. Just five minutes in the Spirit also lost a player to injury when Kika Toulouse pulled up clutching her quadriceps and was replaced by Diana Wiegel, with Robyn Gayle sliding in to central defense from the left fullback position taken up by the William & Mary star.
The Spirit played high pressure the entire game, keeping the ball in the Duke end for long spells in both halves. But some of the possession rhythm the Red and Whites had last week was not to be found. Duke limited the danger on many occasions, giving up seven first half corner kicks, but limiting shots on target to just three. Both teams struggled mightily for any sustained possession and registered similar numbers of shots overall.
The second half saw some adjustments made by Jorden in personnel and structure, which improved things, especially in the first 15 minutes of the half. The story however was more of the same, lots of pressure in the Duke end, but few very real chances in finishing areas.
In the 70th minute, the Spirit lost a second player to a similar quadriceps injury, and in similar fashion to the first when Colleen Williams had to come off just minutes after entering the match. With several other players feeling the tightness of two straight weeks of preseason, Jorden gave the team the day off on Monday with instructions for players needing attention to visit the team’s M.O.S.T. physical therapy offices in Silver Spring, Md.
Trialist Haley Siegel entered for Williams in the 70th and immediately began creating opportunities down the right side in combination with Tiffany McCarty, Stephanie Ochs, Diana Matheson, and an often-overlapping Ali Krieger. After substitute goalkeeper Chantel Jones saved what should have been a sure goal by Duke’s Kaitlyn Kerr from 12 yards near the end of regulation, it was Matheson who almost stole the show with a 25 yard slashing run down the center-right channel before whipping a driven ball to the near post where it was met first-time by 77th minute entrant Megan Mischler. The West Virginia product made good contact, but her effort skidded just wide right in what would be the last real action of the game.
Fans who missed the action in person or over the team’s live audio feed can listen anytime at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/washingtonspirit. That feed at one point during the second half boasted over 250 listeners, which the team hopes to increase next week when their game with UNC undergoes a live video streaming test for the first time this season. Full match highlights will be available during the day on Monday.
Following Saturday’s North Carolina matchup, the Spirit travel to the University of Maryland on Wednesday, April 3, before hosting Virginia back at the SoccerPlex on Saturday, April 6. Washington kick off their NWSL season on the road in Boston on Sunday, April 14, and open at home against Abby Wambach and her Western New York Flash Saturday April 20. That match has already sold out the team’s Home Side GA seating, leaving only VIP season options and Away Side GA & Hill seats left.
Home Team: Washington Spirit 0
Visiting Team: Duke University 0
Date: Mar 24, 2013
Match Type: Scrimmage
Venue: Maryland SoccerPlex: 11 (Stadium)
Kickoff: 3:00 pm
Regulation Length: 90
Weather: 43 degrees, Partly Cloudy
GOALS (Assists/2nd Assists)
Washington Spirit / Duke University
Shots: 11 / 10
Shots on Goal: 4 / 4
Saves: 4 / 4
Corner Kicks: 12 / 2
Fouls: 10 / 4
Offside: 1 / 3
Yellow Cards: 1 / 0
Red Cards: 0 / 0
Washington Spirit: Harris (Jones 62), Anderson (Huster 45), Toulouse (Wiegel 6 / Hubka 45), Gayle, Krieger, Wells (Williams 62 / Siegel 70), Matheson, Lindsey (King 75), Ochs, McCarty (Mischler 77), Miller (Roberts 45)
Duke: Kershner (Thomas 45), Anasi, Rape, Williford, Straton, Kerr, Doria, Wilson, Pathman (Colas 83), Decesare (Hunt 89), Weinberg (Gibson 65)