Despite plastering the Fredericksburg Impact defense with 34 shots, the Washington Spirit Reserves managed only a single goal in a 1-1 draw Wednesday at Maureen Hendricks Field at Maryland SoccerPlex. Spirit Reserves forward Ashley Herndon scored early, but Washington was unable to counter Fredericksburg’s Kara Blosser’s equalizer in the 31st minute to break the deadlock.
Having already qualified for the postseason, the resulting draw dashes Washington hopes at the Northeastern Division title. The Virginia Beach Piranhas claim first in the group and will host the Spirit Reserves in the first round of the playoffs.
Following a script laid out over the majority of the Washington season, the Spirit Reserves began the game with a pressing offensive surge. Control throughout the midfield and attacking runs down each wing kept the Impact defense on their heels.
A nifty combination of one-touch passing led to Herndon’s sixth goal of the season in the ninth minute of play. Four different Washington players touched the ball across the midfield before a crisp pass found midfielder Hayley Siegel down the side of the Impact box. Siegel calmly continued the progression with a one-timed, slotted pass on the ground for Herndon to smartly punch untouched into the Fredericksburg goal for the 1-0 advantage.
Midway through the first half, the visiting Impact drew even following an errant pass in the Washington defensive third. Fredericksburg midfielder Blosser seized the opportunity and gunned a shot from distance that beat Spirit Reserve keeper DiDi Haracic high and right for the 1-1 tie.
The second half again showed the home side Reserves with the majority of possession and control, yet the attending fans observed the inability to find the goal go from comical at times to frustration to outright panic.
Defender Kelsey Pardue fired a blast that skimmed just under the crossbar before Impact keeper Jesse McGinley punched it clear. Washington defender Brittany Basinger narrowly missed from ten yards out. The Spirit Reserves were at no loss for offense, however their labors remained fruitless.
In the waning moments Washington created a slew of ideal opportunities. Forward Amber Stobbs fired high in the 84th minute only to see her shot glance of the crossbar and fall to the foot of Washington substitute Katy Colas on the left. Colas immediate return volley was a mirror image of Stobbs’ shot, skimming off the crossbar and out of danger.
With a crew of brave-hearted defenders and McGinley’s 14 saves on the night, the Impact drew in a well-earned sigh of relief with the sound of the referee’s final whistle.
The Spirit Reserves travel to Virginia Beach this weekend to close out the regular season with a playoff preview. The match is slated for Saturday July 13th at 8:00 p.m. at Virginia Beach Sportsplex. Washington will return to Virginia Beach the following week to open the postseason, date and time TBD.