The Washington Spirit Reserves will begin their tour of the region with home games being played away from the Maryland SoccerPlex when they take on the North Jersey Valkyries this Saturday, June 1 at Liberty High School in Bealeton, Va. The 2-1-0 Spirit Reserves and 0-1-0 Valkyries will kick off at 4 p.m.
Washington is coming off two straight 2-0 wins over the Virginia Beach Piranhas and Fredericksburg Impact after losing 2-1 to the New York Magic on opening night. North Jersey was overpowered by the New Jersey Wildcats 4-2 in its first match of the season on May 22, and has not played since.
For the Spirit Reserves, lockdown defense and an offense that has dominated possession has been the calling card for success. Through three matches, they have outshot opponents 57-18, including 39-11 in their two wins over Virginia Beach and Fredericksburg.
“Saturday is a huge game because it’s either going to give us a hurdle, or we’re going to keeping rocking,” Spirit head coach Mark Parsons said. “We’ve been doing a great job producing shots on goal, we just need to continue finishing them with regularity.”
The catalyst for the Washington offense so far has been 2013 James Madison commit Ashley Herndon, who has scored in each of the Spirit Resereves’ first three games. Herndon is no stranger to putting up impressive numbers in the W-League, having scored five goals and recorded three assists as a member of D.C. United Women in 2012.
Along with Herndon’s continued onslaught of production, the Spirit Reserves have had a balanced scoring attack thus far. University of Maryland forward Ashley Spivey and Virginia Tech’s Katie Yenson each have one goal, while four other players (Tiffany Brown, Jennifer Skogerboe, Amber Stobbs and Kara Wilson) have each an assist.
Defensively, the back line combination of Meghan Cox, Jordan Grant, Daniele Hubka and Skogerboe has contributed to two straight shutouts for Washington. Loyola (Md.) goalkeeper and W-League veteran DiDi Haracic was forced to make only five total saves in those matches.
North Jersey allowed four first half goals in its loss to the New Jersey Wildcats on May 22, and trailed by as many as three. As much as the defense struggled, the Valkyries’ offense was productive, getting goals from Danielle Schulmann and Nickolette Dreisse. Schulmann found net in the 28th minute on a breakaway down the left side of the field assisted by Seton Hall midfielder Ashley Clarke. Dreisse scored in the 52nd minute on a free kick from 30 yards out, maneuvering around the Wildcats’ wall.
Saturday’s match at Liberty High School is the first of two “home games” being played away from the Maryland SoccerPlex for the Spirit Reserves this season in an effort to bring easier access to the program throughout the region. On Thursday June 20, the team will host the Long Island Rough Riders at Howison Complex in Woodbridge, Va. at 7 p.m.