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With the 1-0 loss to the Long Island Rough Riders the previous evening weighing heavily on their minds, the Washington Spirit Reserves snapped their recent scoring drought to down the New York Magic 2-1 Sunday night. A pair of second half goals by Spirit Reserves forwards Ashley Herndon and Amber Stobbs proved just enough to get by New York and end the team’s recent scoring drought.
The win keeps Washington in control of its own playoff destiny and within reach of the Northeastern Division title. If the Spirit Reserves win their next three games, they will finish at the top of the division and claim the right to host the first round of the W-League playoffs.
As part of a special event with the PDL Ocean City Nor’easters, the New York Magic moved their home venue to seaside Carey Stadium in Ocean City, N.J. for their rematch with the Spirit Reserves.
The combination of kettle corn aroma drifting across the pitch from the boardwalk and the looming ferris wheel seemed to have a hypnotic effect on the Spirit Reserves as they could not find the New York net throughout the first half. Washington recorded 13 shots to the Magic’s zero, yet still came up empty at the end of the first scoreless 45 minutes.
From the opening kickoff, Washington charged out of the gates in the second half determined to dispel their recent woes. Following a few quality chances on frame, Stobbs drove a cross square through the New York defense. Herndon surged in front of her defender and smacked an authoritative header inside the near post for the 1-0 Washington lead in the 66th minute.
Washington scored the eventual game-winner in the 82nd minute when Jessica Van Dyke broke free down the left side and sent a low pass into the Magic penalty area. Spirit Reserves midfielder Monica Mendes spun and deftly touched the ball wide to Stobbs who hammered her shot through a crashing New York defender and into the Magic net for the 2-0 lead.
New York answered in the 88th minute with a quick counterattack that allowed Brittany Pfaff in one-on-one with Washington goalkeeper DiDi Haracic. Pfaff’s initial rocketed blast was denied by the athletic Haracic, however the save fell back to the foot of Pfaff for the easy finish.
The Magic nearly found the equalizer in stoppage as a New York shot curled just out of the reach of Haracic and headed into the side netting. However Spirit Reserves substitute Susan Ferguson cleared the ball off the backline to preserve the three points for Washington.
Despite outshooting the Rough Riders 15-6, Washington surrendered a goal in the 78th minute to fall 1-0 to Long Island the night before Forward Grace Hawkins drilled a shot from just inside the Washington box to earn the Rough Riders’ victory and snap a three-game losing streak.
The Spirit Reserves remain on the road for the third week in a row, traveling to face the New Jersey Wildcats on Saturday July 6. Match time is slated for 2 p.m. at St John Vianney High School in Holmdel, N.J.