Spirit open preseason with win over Penn State

It’s hard to know what to take away from a game like this. Training camp only opened a week ago, and out of the projected starting lineup my AWK colleague Chris Henderson put together, only four players got minutes – Kika Toulouse, Tiffany McCarty, Stephanie Ochs, and Caroline Miller. It was really more of a chance for the second tier of players to show their stuff, as head coach Mike Jorden admitted. “After one week of camp we wanted to bring some kids in and give them a shot at playing a game like this. I think we were looking for seeing individual players playing different places and moving a couple of kids around.”

Penn State head coach Erica Walsh was impressed with the Spirit roster, even as she noted that they obviously had yet to gel into a team. “I think this was a team playing against players who were trying to get onto a team. I think that was a big difference. It’s a group of individuals that are incredibly talented, and you can see that each of them has their own attributes and that this is going to be a great team once they come together.”

Second-half sub Olivia Wagner provided the lone goal in the 86th minute, an opportunistic putaway as Ariana Calderon – another sub – slipped the ball to her after a corner kick. “It was just bouncing around in the box, and that’s always dangerous, and I was able to get a foot on it, so I’m glad we finally put one away.”

That was after many, many attempts that didn’t make it in. “We had about 25 chances before that one happened,” said Wagner. “I think we hit every inch of those posts.” It was generally either that or the legs of the tenacious Penn State defenders, who rarely gave Spirit attackers a good look at goal.

Meanwhile, at the other end, backup goalkeeper Chantel Jones kept the Spirit in the match, twice facing US U-20 WNTer Maya Hayes one-on-one, and twice stuffing her shots. “She just got behind them,” said Jones. “She’s a very good player, a very fast player. I just tried to give myself the best position possible and make a play and luckily I was able to keep it out of the net for the team because that could have been a dagger, to give up a goal that late in the game.”

Jorden was satisfied with the team’s performance at this stage. “I think the good thing for us was how well we played and how well we moved the ball around, possessed the ball. I was happy with that. I’m happy with the way we played.”

The best outcome on the day, though, might have been the attendance, as an impressive 671 fans showed up on a chilly day with rain threatening to see a meaningless preseason game with none of the marquee players having joined the team yet.

But just wait until the “names” show up – even the players are looking forward to that. Chantel Jones’ eyes lit up when asked about the opportunity to play alongside Ali Krieger. “Yes, and Ashlyn. I can’t wait for them to get here. I can learn so much from them, having Ali and Candace Chapman. They have so much experience, they can help me a lot. I’m excited to train with Ashlyn because she’s one of the best in the world. She’ll push me to be better every day, so I’m excited.”

The allocated players arrive this coming week, and the first opportunity to see them will be this coming Sunday, as Washington takes on Duke at 3 pm at the Soccerplex.

Game lineup:

Ochs (45’ Williams) – McCarty (64’ Brandt) – Mischler (30’ Miller)
Roberts (55’ Wagner) – Hodak – Wells (70’ Calderon)
Weigel (45’ Siegel, but Hodak moved here) – Toulouse – Anderson (70’ Cooke) – Hubka

7 thoughts on “Spirit open preseason with win over Penn State

  1. sec

    Thanks for this report, Kevin. I was able to catch only part of the 1st half. To me, Ingrid Wells stood out for the Spirit — easily their best, most confident player. Her first touch, vision, and quick decision making suggests she’ll be an effective attacking midfielder this season. I see her as a regular starter for this team, and I think it will be fun to see her combine with Matheson and Miller, among others. (Let’s hope that she’s not asked to play out wide, as Goteborg apparently tried; that’s not her best position, really).

    Otherwise, this looked like really early days, as Kevin’s report noted. Some trialists looked pretty good, however. For example, I have a feeling that Hodak makes the Spirit’s final roster. She’s not flashy, but works hard and is comfortable on the ball. (I also think she was a big part of the Terps’ success last season, though her name was never in the headlines because she’s not a goal scorer or offensive playmaker).

    Really surprised by the size of the crowd, particularly given the weather and the timing of this match. Surely the free tickets had something to do with that, but still nice to see. Sadly, however, the Soccerplex scoreboard is still adored by a large Washington Freedom logo. Time to turn the page on that.

    Finally, the new Nike uniforms were really quite bland, with no distinctive identity. Hard to imagine much in the way of jersey sales this season. By no means are they an embarrassment, but too bad that Nike couldn’t have spent a bit of time and money to make a better first impression.

    1. Agree about Hodak

      Min Hodak is so composed on the ball that I have no doubt her teammates and opponents valued her. She was signed as a Discovery player – can they cut her once she has a contract? I assume so, but I wasn’t sure if that is a guarantee to make the final roster.

  2. Anon

    Any reason why Holly King didn’t play? I read on equalizer that Huster had a concussion, but didn’t see anything on King.

    1. Kevin Parker Post author

      Judging by her Twitter feed, I think Holly’s still in school. Don’t know if this means she won’t be joining the team until June.

  3. Michael

    I saw all but the first couple of minutes – the quality was good but showed they are still getting used to each other. There was a lot of technical skill on the ball. There wasn’t a roster list that I could find and the Spirit seems to lack some players so I could piece together who was who but diminutive midfield #17 put on a footwork show, much to the delight of the crowd. Anyone know who that was? Ingrid Wells was fun to watch as well. Caroline Miller looked solid when she came in. I definitely like Hodak on the field after watching her at Maryland. Jones stuffed Hayes twice (!) on breakaways. It’ll be fun when the full squad is back.

      1. Random

        from my sluething I believe #17 was alex brandt. I was not at the gane but using pics from it and roster notes from various sources I am pretty sure.


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