The Washington Spirit (1-10-4, 7 points) scored first but couldn’t make the lead hold up in a 2-1 defeat on the road at Seattle Reign FC (4-9-3, 15 points). Broadcast by FOX Soccer, the match marked the national TV debut for the National Women’s Soccer League.
“We continue to make strides but the margin for error is thin,” Spirit head coach Mark Parsons said. “That was an improved performance, and we’re working hard to instill belief in the team.”
Diana Matheson converted a penalty kick in the 12th minute – her team-high sixth goal of the season and fourth from the spot – after a handball by Seattle’s Keelin Winters.
Playing at Moda Health Pitch at Starfire Stadium in Tukwila, Wash., the Reign responded with two goals in four minutes by Jessica McDonald on the half hour mark. In the 30th minute, McDonald poked home a pass by Christine Nairn, and then three minutes later she beat Spirit goalkeeper Ashyln Harris for a short header off a delivery by Elli Reed. The Reign extended their unbeaten streak to six games.
Harris, Toni Pressley, Ali Krieger and the rest of the Spirit defense were valiant in their efforts to keep the visitors within striking distance while Tori Huster was valuable on both sides of the ball.
Stephanie Ochs used her individual moves to create chances for the Washington offense but was unable to beat Reign goalkeeper Hope Solo in the run of play. Conny Pohlers had a point blank opportunity in the 78th minute but wasn’t able to get enough on her shot. Lori Lindsey’s header from a Matheson corner kick in the 83rd minute was headed for the upper corner before Solo corralled the ball.
The Spirit, who have lost three straight matches, return to action on Saturday, July 20, when they make their first visit to Benedictine University to face the Chicago Red Stars.