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The Washington Spirit (1-11-4, 7 points) received a superb outing from goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris but surrendered an own goal by Tiffany McCarty in a 1-0 loss to the Chicago Red Stars (6-6-4, 22 points) at Benedictine University Sports Complex in Lisle, Ill.
“Everyone is giving everything they can, leaving it all out there physically,” Spirit head coach Mark Parsons said. “Sure, we made some mistakes. But despite being shorthanded, we dug in and played more soccer than we have before against a physical, explosive and powerful team.”
McCarty, moving from her usual forward position to make an emergency start in the injury ravaged Spirit defense – only 15 players were available for the game – turned a header across the goal mouth by Chicago forward Inka Grings into the Washington net in the 62nd minute.
Harris finished with seven saves and made her presence known throughout the game on free kicks and crosses. The U.S. national team goalkeeper denied Chicago forward Lori Chalupny on multiple occasions and sprawled to stymie her teammate Maribel Dominguez in the first half.
“Ashlyn was incredible tonight,” Parsons said.
With Canadian national team defender Robyn Gayle already sidelined with a strained right knee, U.S. national team defender Ali Krieger did not travel with the team while she continues to be evaluated for concussion symptoms, and Canadian center back Candace Chapman was a late scratch due to a right knee strain.
Conny Pohlers nearly got the Spirit on the board in the 24th minute when she turned and fired from six yards out. But Red Stars goalkeeper Erin McLeod was there for one of the two saves she needed to make on the night.
The Spirit pressed to tie the game following McCarty’s own goal but couldn’t deliver a shot on net. Lori Lindsey’s cross snuck its way through the box without finding a Spirit forward in the 88th minute, and a late attack by Pohlers was undone by an offside call.
The Spirit, who are winless in 10 straight matches, return to action at home on Saturday, July 27, at 7 p.m. ET, when they host the Boston Breakers at Maureen Hendricks Field at Maryland SoccerPlex.