What They’re Saying After the Spirit’s 10th Win

Washington Spirit  |   June 24, 2024
What They’re Saying After the Spirit’s 10th Win Featured Image

The Washington Spirit completed the season sweep of NJ/NY Gotham FC on Sunday night thanks to goals from first-year player Courtney Brown and Trinity Rodman and a penalty kick save from Aubrey Kingsbury in the 88th minute. With the win, the Spirit continue a six-match unbeaten streak and have now won three away matches in a row for the first time in club history. After the match, Interim Head Coach Adrián González, Brown, and Kingsbury spoke with the media.


Adrián González


On unique challenges of this match:

“We were expecting to play at 1:30. We were aware the weather was a key factor today. We had that situation and tried to face it as good as possible. I think it was positive that we could change the time and try to play later because thinking about players’ health, it wasn’t a good option to play at 1:30. To have the ball as much as possible, that’s the best way to defend and be as competent as possible to run less and run better. It’s been a challenge because players’ fatigue was high. We also knew that they (Gotham) played on Wednesday, so that was another factor. If we were tired, maybe they also were, too. We’ve tried to compete as good as possible, and I think we’ve done an amazing job today because it wasn’t an easy game, and Gotham is competing very good. They are a really good team, so I’m happy with the performance today.”


On the Spirit’s adjustments and the battle of game plans:

“At the beginning, we had different moments that we could keep the ball a little bit more. We know that they want to keep the ball, and sometimes we have to defend in the low block and try to defend our box. We knew today that we needed that because they are attacking pretty good, too. We have also been working on that the last week — how to defend our box, how to be physical, and how to protect those spaces. I think winning 1-0 and then with that red card, I think the game changed. We tried to be more patient with the ball. We adjusted the shape a little bit because we could create more chances, especially through the width with Gabby (Carle), Trin (Trinity Rodman), and also Casey (Krueger) through the left side. We tried to play in the half as much as possible, tried to have longer attacks because I think the first half today sometimes when we won it back, we lost it again. We wanted to play in the half as much as possible, but sometimes it’s not easy. We competed pretty good. Also, we played with the rhythms today. We know when we needed to slow the game down a little, being more patient, and when we needed to accelerate a little because we have the space behind the back, especially with one player down. We knew that we could be dangerous attacking the backline.”


On Courtney Brown’s performance:

“She’s doing very good. We knew that we needed to be patient with her and with these players that are coming from college because they need time to develop. They need time to get adjusted to the league, to the rhythm. We are trying to help these players because they are so talented. Every player is different. Hal (Hershfelt), for example, and Croix (Bethune), they adapted maybe easy in the beginning. Heather (Stainbrook), Courtney, Makenna (Morris). Those players are also training very good, and we are giving them chances because we believe in them. They are doing an amazing job, and we need them. They are the future of Washington Spirit, and that’s why step-by-step they are getting more minutes, more experiences. I think it is positive that as a team we can also bring these young players, and they are showing that level.”


On the Spirit stopping Gotham’s talented roster:

“I didn’t stop, the players did! We knew that Gotham wasn’t conceding goals at all. They’ve been winning and getting really good results, and we knew that today would be a tough game. I think it’s been collective work. We defended 11 players today, reducing the spaces, especially in the middle. We know that they like to progress through the middle with the midfielders. They have (Rose) Lavelle there in the first half, receiving between lines. They are really dangerous. We knew we had to be really compact today, try to get as tight as possible to the players, and I think we did an amazing job today collectively as a team. We are attacking and defending 11 players, and that’s why I think we had that performance today. Sometimes, we need to defend like that, and it’s part of our identity, too. We need to know how to go deep, how to be compact, how to defend the box. Again, we have conceded zero goals today. That’s another step forward because we are trying to reduce those goals. I think that’s really good for the team.”


On what he was most proud of:

“I am proud of all players. I am proud the way they are competing. I think that they are showing that we are so mature because we can compete at home, away, doesn’t matter the team that we have in front. We know how we want to play. We know what our identity is. We know how to defend. We know how to attack in a different way, so we are pretty dynamic. And now, I’m so proud that all players are involved. We are making rotations. We have all the players connected. We can make changes according to the game, according to the profiles that we need. We can have different options. I am so happy with the team culture that we are building, and I think that is a consequence. The results are just a consequence of what we are doing every day during the training sessions.”


On Head Coach Jonatan Giráldez’s arrival and impact on culture:

“That’s great. I’m sure he’s going to help us. He’s going to bring quality, experience. The team, as I was saying, we are building that during a lot of months. Now, it’s too easy to be a part of this family because the players are so amazing. They are so mature. They are welcoming of Jona (Jonatan Giráldez) and the other guys. It’s been just a few days, but they are feeling at home already. I think that shows that we have been doing an amazing job, but now it is just a matter of time that we can be better. We are going to improve, for sure. We are going to have more quality and experience in the team.”


On how the Spirit has been able to execute against Gotham FC:

“I don’t have an answer because we are preparing the games every week the same. We respect a lot of the opponents. I think we have been building that during a lot of weeks. The team now feels strong. It doesn’t matter which team we have in front of us. Today, we needed to be very aggressive in terms of defending, very mature playing with different rhythms because the weather was a factor. I think we are competing every day much better. So, I don’t have the answer, to be honest. We analyze the opponent. We try to identify the weaknesses and how we can attack, how we need to defend. But again, I think it is a matter of being a team. Now, we are strong because we build those connections, and the team feels strong, fighting until the end. Last week, we had that goal at the last minute. Today, different game, but also the performance that we are showing is really good because of the connections that we are building.”


On how the Spirit is able to have so many goal scorers:

“That’s maybe an answer for the last question. When I’m saying that we are dynamic, I’m saying that we are attacking in different ways, and we can score in different ways so different players can score. I think that’s really positive, and that shows that we are getting all the players involved. We are very versatile, also. We don’t attack in just one way. We don’t need just one player to score, and I think that is really positive. Also, the players are showing that level and that performance. I think that is another factor, another key point that if some days Trin, Ouleye (Sarr), or Croix don’t score, we have other players — Hatchy (Ashley Hatch), Courtney, Hal has scored, Lena (Silano) also. I think that is really positive. That is what we want, and that is what we are looking for.”


On Jonatan Giráldez’s transition as next head coach:

“Really positive. We are focused day-by-day every week, so we don’t think too much in the future, to be honest, because we cannot control that. I’m just thinking about today’s game, and now, tomorrow, I will think about how to recover and how to prepare the next week. We are trying to make this transition as smooth as possible, also, thinking about the team, thinking about what is best for the players. It’s going to be very smooth. We have enough time to build that. Then, we have that summer break that we can bring new players. We ahve timing off to train, to continue improving. I think this is really positive. Now we have two more games before that break to try to win as many games as possible.”


Courtney Brown


On her first professional goal: 

“It was a really, really special moment, something I think I’ll never forget. I think that image of the ball hitting the back of the net is just burned into my brain forever.”


On her family traveling to the game:

“My husband, he came up from DC from where we live, and my mother-in-law and my brother-in-law came from Utah, and two friends came from Utah, as well.”


On her role with the Spirit:

“I really have to credit my coaches and teammates. I feel like they’ve helped me grow so much from preseason until now, and there’s still a ton of growth ahead of me. The goal was special, a really special moment, but I still got to show up to training every day and work hard for the team to continue down the path that I’m going on.”


On adjustments to deal with Gotham’s tactics:

“I think we really just had to be more gritty, specifically picking up loose balls in the midfield  We needed to pick up loose balls and secure the first three passes, so that we could secure possession. I think the tide started to shift a little bit after the goal. We got some momentum, and we were able to get more on our front foot. The start of the game — just maybe getting down and dirty and getting a little bit better.”


On coping with the heat and physical nature of the match:

“We were expecting a physical game. This league is a very physical league, so that shouldn’t have been a surprise to us. As for the heat, it was hot out there, but I didn’t think it was too bad. I think the humidity made the air a little bit thick, but the heat was a little bit manageable.”


On Jonatan Giráldez’s arrival:

“We are obviously very excited to have him here now. Adrián is going to continue as our interim head coach for the time being, just to try to be as least disruptive to our season as possible, which as a player, I really appreciate. I am excited to get to work with Jona. He seems very sophisticated with his approach, has a very high soccer IQ. Good things are ahead for us.”


Aubrey Kingsbury


On her performance and penalty kick save against Katie Stengel:

“She’s a good a friend of mine. We were freshman roommates from Wake Forest, so we had a long-standing history of facing each other in big games. Obviously, I kind of went off instinct. I felt that she was going to go cross her body to my right. I guessed right because I’ve seen some of her tape. She scored some in Liverpool to the keeper’s left and right, so it was just one of those hunches. I knew that I wanted to come up big with the save, being that late in the game. I was like, ‘Can’t give away the shutout now.’ I was really excited to come away with that. It was funny. Some of the players came to congratulate me, but the ball wasn’t out of bounds. I was like, ‘Go defend! What are you dong!’ That was an exciting moment. I feel a little bad because she was celebrating her 100th cap. I gave her a hug, and she will probably be upset with me for a little while.”


On the tactical battle before the red card:

“Credit to Gotham. They came out pressing like you’re saying, especially after coming off of a mid-week game. We knew they wanted to win. We knew they were coming for us, especially after we beat them 2-0 last match. This would present a new challenge. They have a lot of in-form players. They are on a bit of a streak themselves. We were a little frantic in the beginning, leading up to the red card. We couldn’t solve their first line of pressure. I think the spacing was a little off, myself included. It was just a little bit too close to Hal (Hershfelt) and Andi (Sullivan) and couldn’t solve it, a little frantic. We needed to switch the ball more because the weak side was open, but we just weren’t seeing that, weren’t executing. That’s definitely something we will work on, just taking a breather, let the pressure come, and find a way to play through and play out the other side.”


On what was the factor that help break through the initial franticness:

“I’ll have to watch it back, but this team is incredibly dangerous. We can come out of a ton of pressure on top of us, and all it takes is one opportunity, a moment of brilliance. I think a theme has been our youngsters coming up big. Courtney Brown getting her first goal. She’s our fourth rookie to score — super proud of her, super excited for her to get on the score sheet. Again, I think out of the half, a minute and a half into the second half, Trinity with an absolute rocket. I think this team is so dangerous because we can create something out of nothing. Those weren’t our only chances. There were two counter attacks that I was so excited for. That Trin on the outlet, the pass to Croix where she barely missed. Courtney almost had a second — same thing: quick outlet to Trin, and we’re off to the races. We are certainly dangerous off the counter. I think the next step for us is being able to build a little more, have longer possessions, longer sustained attacks, and break teams down a little more.”


On team morale before and after today’s match: 

“Pretty great. This team believes we can beat anyone. We are excited to take on Kansas City, Orlando again. There’s no team that we are afraid of. It’s kind of all about us. It’s about the process, and we know we still have so much room to grow. If we continue to learn and grow from each game, I believe there is no one that we can’t beat. We really look forward to the challenges that each game presents. We are a young team. We are growing a lot, and I think we have come so far this season. From match one until now, we are in the middle of the season. Looking forward to seeing how much more we can do.”


On her first impressions of Jonatan Giráldez:

“It’s been a short week. I think he’s been to about two trainings. It’s still very new, but it has been great to have him on the field, and he’s starting to get integrated into our sessions and give pointers and things. It has been a smooth transition. Obviously, Adrián is still acting as our interim head coach for now. We trust that Jona will take over when he is ready. Right now, we are just getting him, and we got two other new staff — Toni and Andrès — get them plugged in, getting to know everyone. We are just really excited for the level of expertise. Obviously, he is a winner. He’s been in some incredible games and a brilliant soccer mind, so getting forward to getting to know him more and see what he brings to this team and seeing what we can learn and accomplish under Jona.”


On shutting down Gotham FC:

“I think we got one of the best attacks in the League. Like I was mentioning earlier, we can score out of nowhere. Our ability on the counter attack, we have some incredibly fast forwards, and some rookies that put away the chances that they are given. I think we are an incredibly dangerous team. On the other end, we’ve conceded more than I would like this season, but one of our main focuses recently has been defending in the box. We are getting physical, touch tight, marking our runners, crosses, set pieces, have been a particular weakness. I was really proud of how we competed today. I thought we limited their chances. They were resorting to shooting from distance or creating things off of set pieces, again. Nothing too dangerous, granted we were up a player. Great fight. They are a hot team. They were previously unbeaten in nine, so we knew it was going to be a tough game for us. Came out, got the win, got the three points, and we’re hitting the road tonight. It definitely makes the bus ride better to get a win.”

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