The Washington Spirit wrapped up a three-game road swing with a dreary 3-0 loss in Boston on Saturday night in front of 1,246 fans at a cold and rainy Dilboy Stadium.
This is the third time the two teams have faced off in the young National Women’s Soccer League season, with Boston seeing the Spirit three times out of only six total games played, while it was the eighth game of the season for the now 1-4-3 Washington.
The previous two meetings between the sides ended in 1-1 draws, but familiarity was in Boston’s favor in this round. Washington have one more chance to return the favor when they host the Breakers on July 27th at the Maryland SoccerPlex, the forth and final time they will meet in the regular season.
From the opening of the match, Boston was on the offensive, dominating possession and generating more opportunities than their familiar foe in the Spirit. Despite their host’s effort, the Spirit mostly contained the Breakers in midfield, limiting the danger, and catching them offside five times in the process.
As halftime neared, it looked like Spirit head coach Mike Jorden would get a chance to make adjustments in the locker room with a generous 0-0 score, but the Breakers had other ideas.
U.S. international Heather O’Reilly broke the deadlock in the 38th minute, receiving a deft flick-on from Lianne Sanderson and firing past Chantel Jones, who started her second straight game for DC while Ashlyn Harris rested a sore knee. It was the third goal of the season for O’Reilly, and the first of three assists on the night for former England international Sanderson.
The second half saw more offensive opportunities for the Spirit, but Boston scored again in the 53rd and 66th minute; both assisted by Sanderson. Katie Schoepfer finished, timing a run between Spirit defenders to one-time Sanderson’s pass from the end line before Kyah Simon blasted off the underside of the cross bar from close range as insurance.
Two rare bright spots for the Spirit came late in the game. The first when Jones stoned Schoepfer on a penalty conversion attempt after Tori Huster was called for handling just inside the left edge of the area. The five-foot-eleven Virginia product dived right to make the impressive save. The second seeing U.S. Under-23 National Team midfield/forward Colleen Williams make her professional debut after a long recovery from a quadriceps pull suffered in preseason.
Williams’ return could not have come at a better time for the Spirit, who will be without Caroline Miller for at least six weeks after an MRI last week revealed a stress fracture in her right ankle. Miller had appeared in every game for the Spirit before Saturday, including one start, always causing problems for opposing defenses despite failing to find the net so far.
The Spirit have a three week break before their next game on June 15 at the Maryland SoccerPlex. Fans will likely see a much different lineup when Western New York arrive for that matchup as Harris, Ali Krieger, Diana Matheson and Robyn Gayle are all likely to be on National Team duty at the very least, with other call-ups always possible. Over 2,700 tickets have been sold so far, with the popular “Home Side GA” sections already sold out. VIP seats and General Admission still available at tickets.washingtonspirit.com.
Note: The team will host a watching party for fans 21 and over at Laughing Man Tavern (1306 G St. NW, Washington, DC) for the USA / Canada matchup in Toronto next Sunday, June 2 @ 4:30 p.m.