by Elan-Paolo DeCarlo
Sometimes, losses can be victories. Even with a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Sky Blue FC, the Washington Spirit find themselves in the postseason. Finishing the regular season at 10-9-5, the Spirit have 35 points. This postseason appearance comes as a surprise to much of the NWSL. Just a year ago, the Spirit finished in last place, with only three wins and 14 total points. This turnaround has produced an exciting and unpredictable season, which now will continue late into August.
In what now seems like an afterthought, the Spirit were defeated by Sky Blue FC. Chantel Jones got her second consecutive start in goal, while Ashlyn Harris is recovering from concussion symptoms. The loss drops Jones’ record on the season to 0-4-1.
Sky Blue broke through with the lone goal of the match in the 27th minute. After gaining possession, Sky Blue played the ball up the field to Kelley O’Hara on the left side. O’Hara played the ball back to create space. She then sent a ball into the box toward a cutting Maya Hayes. Spirit defender Toni Pressley beat Hayes to it and headed it away, but the clearance went right to Monica Ocampo. Ocampo was able to settle and volley a shot into the lower left corner of the goal. The goal would hold up for the rest of the match.
A crowd of 4,282 at the Maryland SoccerPlex was worked into a tense frenzy, with many expecting the postseason to slip away from the Spirit’s grasp. Fortunately, the Spirit faithful were helped out by the Western New York Flash. By playing the Chicago Red Stars to a draw, the Flash were able to propel the Spirit into the playoffs.
At the conclusion of the match, the Spirit put on a brief celebration for Lori Lindsey. She has announced her plans to retire at the end of the season. Due to the events of night, her retirement is delayed for the time being. The Spirit still have the playoffs to come.
The Spirit will play their semifinal match at FC Kansas City on Saturday August 23 at Verizon Wireless Field Durwood Stadium at 1pm ET or Seattle Reign FC on Sunday August 24th at Memorial Stadium at 11pm ET pending the results of the Seattle Reign-Portland Thorns game on Sunday August 17.