What They’re Saying After Saturday’s Loss to North Carolina

Washington Spirit  |   June 30, 2024
What They’re Saying After Saturday’s Loss to North Carolina Featured Image

The Washington Spirit fell 0-1 to the North Carolina Courage on Saturday night in front of the fourth largest home crowd in Spirit history.  After the match, Interim Head Coach Adrián González, Hal Hershfelt, and Tara McKeown spoke with the media.


Adrián González



On the way the team dealt with North Carolina keeping their wingers high and wide to occupy the fullbacks:

“Well, I think today, we hadn’t had the game that we were expecting. We need to take this game as a learning experience. I think behind every game there is learning, especially when you lose, and we need to identify what happened today. Right now, the feeling that I have is that we knew that they wanted to progress through the middle. They wanted to create numbers inside. Dropping their nine with (Ashley) Sanchez, with two midfielders, sometimes also with a fullback there inside. We knew that that would happen. That and I think we haven’t adjusted properly. Especially during the first half and then second half I think we had a lot of performance. Again, not too many chances today but even though we didn’t have the best game today, we could’ve scored at least one, I think, but if we see the big picture I think we need to be honest. I think today we didn’t deserve a victory. When we created chances other games, I said like, ‘Okay, maybe we could’ve scored more goals and maybe we could’ve had better results.’ Today, my feeling is we haven’t had what we wanted, and it wasn’t enough. Maybe we could tie today because you push until the end. The team, they have been working hard until the end, but I think today we needed to do much more to win a game. We’ve done that during many, many games, but this week we couldn’t, and we need to learn from that.”


On the reshuffling of positions on the field:

“We wanted Makenna (Morris) on the left side, but we were expecting because we didn’t know about Casey (Kreuger), if she could continue or not. So, just in case Casey couldn’t continue, we were expecting to put Makenna there, so that’s why she was a little bit confused with Trin (Trinity Rodman) there, but we wanted to have Makenna on left side and Trin more as a nine with Hatchy (Ashley Hatch). Two forwards and trying to thread behind because we knew especially behind the fullbacks and center backs, we could’ve had more advantage, but I think today we couldn’t find those walls and those spaces.”


On the impact Andi Sullivan not playing had on the team’s performance:

“Huge. Huge impact. She’s a player that brings leadership, brings patience for the buildup, during the buildup, she’s helping us a lot. Also, defensively she has the ability to organize the team and when things are not going good, or as we were expecting, she’s the first one who always takes that step forward and today for sure we missed her. We need to learn, and we need to be able to do that also with all the players as a team. We need to have also that ambition and also that leadership with all the players on the pitch because sometimes things are not as you were expecting, and we need to be ready to face those situations, too. Yesterday, the last training session, she fell a little bit. Her hip again, and at this point, it doesn’t make sense to push any player, I think. We have that summer break and thinking about next game, we want the players as fresh as possible, and that’s why we decided today to give her a rest because she needed it. Of course, we have other players that also are competing good and that’s why we couldn’t play today with her.”


On what they will do improve communication between the midfield and the forwards:

“Well, we’ve been talking about, especially in the middle today we couldn’t find, especially Hal and Paige Metayer behind the forwards. We’ve been working on that this week and other games. During the buildup, we could find those players and those spaces much better. Once you find those players there, your attack is better because you can progress and then you can find maybe Croix (Bethune) or Courtney (Brown) in those pockets. Today, we knew that they had a lot of players in the middle. It wasn’t easy to progress through the middle, but I think we could’ve done a better job especially facing forward because sometimes we could receive them but facing backwards and we needed a lot of time just to turn and we couldn’t progress. We’re going to continue working on that because this is nothing new. We’ve been working on that because the way that we want to play is very important. So, when the ball goes there, you can have a better attack. I think today also we could have done maybe a better job with Trin, Ouleye (Sarr), Croix, with those players because when the ball arrived there, we were not as accurate as other games, maybe, with last pass or with the decision making. We wanted to progress and to finish fast with shooting or with maybe with just kicking the ball. It’s something that we’ve been working on, especially when we are in the half, we know that we need to be more patient, and if you cannot attack fast, we need to have longer possessions. Again, we need to learn from that and try to be better next week.”


On having to make decisions on the last two subs:

“Performance. I didn’t like what I was seeing, and we have enough players to move the team. I’m not criticizing them for sure. I’m talking about the energy, about the feeling that I have. We couldn’t find those players. I was feeling that today we were sometimes a little bit down. I don’t know why, to be honest. Sometimes you need to move the team. You need to provoke different things, different relationships. Bringing Hatchy and Britt (Brittany Ratcliffe), they have a great energy, and we’ve seen that at other games. We wanted to create different options. Ouleye, Croix, Trin, a lot of players, they’ve been playing a lot of games and sometimes when we see that the performance is maybe going down or the energy is not 100%, we need to move the team. I think it’s good to have that competition, and all the players can play, all the players can start, and they need to be 100% for sure.”


On Tara McKeown’s plays throughout the end of the game:

“Well, I think during the last minutes there are a lot of emotions and a lot of players, they want to go forward. She can do that, but I think today it wasn’t easy to dribble because the field, to be honest, is not so good for that especially in the middle. We wanted to progress more through the width, and those last minutes we’ve been working on that to try to put balls inside the box, to provoke set pieces, but she has that energy and for sure she wants to help the team going forward. I think we need to manage a little bit better those minutes because sometimes we need to be a little bit more patient and try to identify when it is a good time to put that ball or when to dribble and try to find the better option.”


Hal Hershfelt & Tara McKeown

On the problem North Carolina posed:

Hal: “I honestly think our lack of chances – well, we had quite a bit of chances that came from our rhythm and our energy. I feel like we had a good five to 10 minutes where we would be up in their half working it, but then we would kind of die off. I feel like that’s really where we went wrong this game. Yes, they are a good team, and I feel like they were able to expose us, especially through the middle a little bit, playing those slip balls into our box and stuff like that, but at the end of the day, I think it was up to us to really turn it up, and we didn’t do that.”


On defending Ashley Sanchez:

Tara: “It’s definitely a little weird seeing her on the other team. I think we had a game plan, and we just didn’t execute it as well as we probably hoped. Like Hal said, they were able to find slip passes in the pockets and behind our backs. Going forward we need to work on that this week.”

Hal: “She is a great player and she’s very good at finding those spaces in the midfield. She is a great player.”


On going to the Olympic Games:

Hal: “I’m really excited. Obviously, when you’re growing up playing soccer, that’s a big dream for everybody. I am so grateful that I have been given this opportunity, and I am so excited to go to Paris.”


On Jonatan Giráldez transitioning into the head coach role:

Tara: “I think we knew this moment was coming. We’re obviously still going to have Adrián on the sideline and as an assistant coach, and we are really looking forward to working with both of them going forward.”


On the biggest improvement that needs to be made before the next game:

Hal: “Just repeating what I touched on already, just the consistency of our rhythm and our intensity. I feel like that is something we really need to improve on. I hope we can take that into Bay.”

Tara: “I agree. I feel like our energy was just a little down today, and, like Aubrey (Kingsbury) said, we haven’t been shut out since the season opener. Just getting back at it this week and scoring more goals this upcoming weekend.”


On the North Carolina goal:

Tara: “Aubrey is a great player. Everyone has a mistake once or twice in their career, and that just happened to be her one. We are all behind her. We should have scored three goals to make up for it, so it is not on Aubrey, it’s on the defenders not giving enough pressure so she couldn’t shoot the ball, its everyone around, it is a team effort.”


On missing Andi Sullivan:

Hal: “First of all, Andi (Sullivan) brings so much leadership to our team. I think that was also something we were missing on the field. Obviously, we have leadership everywhere, like Trin (Rodman), Aubrey (Kingsbury), people like that, Tara (McKeown). Andi is really our central leader, and I feel like we did miss that quite a bit today, especially when it came to keeping the rhythm and intensity because I feel like we work really well off each other. Paige (Metayer) stepped up great, though I thought. She kind of came in, but North Carolina was just so good at taking advantage of those opportunities.”


On if McKeown’s drives were forcing an attempt or trying to pin North Carolina deeper:

Tara: “Probably a little of both. We were losing, obviously, so I think we just needed to get the ball up the field, and there was space in front of me to dribble, so I just took the space and looked for the passes up higher.”


On the condition of the pitch:

Tara: “It wasn’t great, but we both played on the same field, so it’s not really an excuse. It could be better.”


On the energy levels and leadership in critical moments:

Hal: “Honestly, I think that we could have been better at that throughout the game. Maybe being more upbeat during opportunities that we were crashing at their goal to make something happen. I also honestly thought that we could have used some calmness. It’s all about balance. I feel like there were sometimes where we could have taken control of the game in a different way, but we were too frantic. I think finding that good balance was very important for us, and we missed the mark on that tonight.”

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