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The Washington Spirit (1-8-4, 7 points) dictated most of the play in their second match under the direction of new head coach Mark Parsons but gave up a late second half goal in a 1-0 road defeat to league-leading Sky Blue FC (9-3-3, 30 points).
“It was a fearless performance,” Parsons said. “It was a game that we were disappointed to come away without a point or three. We defended extremely well, again, and we need to be better on the ball and connect better. If we take our chances, we’ll come out on top.”
Monica Ocampo ran onto an open shot inside the top of the box after Danesha Adams had her shot blocked in the 74th minute for the game’s only goal.
“Sky Blue are a classy and persistent team, one that was without a couple of its best players, too,” Parsons said.
The Spirit used pressure to find seams in the Sky Blue defense and create a host of chances in the first half. They also had a number of set piece opportunities after halftime but couldn’t unlock the Sky Blue defense.
Parsons went with the same lineup that he’d used in his first match in charge. Ashlyn Harris started in goal, with Ali Krieger, Candace Chapman, Toni Pressley and Tori Huster as the back line. Julia Roberts, Lori Lindsey and Diana Matheson filled out the midfield while Colleen Williams, Conny Pohlers and Stephanie Ochs were the forwards in a 4-3-3 formation.
But things changed far earlier than anticipated, as Williams limped off injured only moments after the opening whistle. She was replaced by Lindsay Taylor, who made her Spirit debut following her arrival last week in a trade with Seattle.
Matheson didn’t quite get a hold of her one-timer, and Ochs missed wide as the Spirit find openings early. Pohlers was denied on a tough tackle by Sky Blue goalkeeper Brittany Cameron, and Washington also fell victim to a number of offside calls.
Pressley and Chapman were strong in the center of the Spirit defense, but Sky Blue made the most of its counterattacks in the heat during the second half at Yurcak Field Stadium.
The Spirit return home to Maureen Hendricks Field at Maryland SoccerPlex on Wednesday, July 10, to host the Chicago Red Stars at 7:30 p.m. ET, in the first of three regular season meetings between the two teams.