Despite adding in their allocation of US and Canadian internationals to last week’s winning lineup – as well as getting Holly King home for spring break – the Washington Spirit could only come close to scoring against the Duke Blue Devils and had to settle for a 0-0 draw, preserved by a couple of big saves from goalkeepers Ashlyn Harris and Chantel Jones.
You could see what was going to work. Ali Krieger ruled the right flank, making dangerous runs down the sideline, getting into the box for crosses, and then racing back to dispossess opposing forwards. Diana Matheson was all over the attacking half of the field, disrupting Duke’s buildups and distributing the ball right and left.
And you could see what didn’t yet. Several Duke attacks were made possible by the rest of the team not filling in for Krieger’s forward runs, and Matheson’s feeds, while consistently looking like good ideas, frequently missed their target.
All parties pointed to the lack of time the team had had so far. “It was the second day our whole roster has been here together,” said Matheson. “So we really don’t know each other, we don’t know the system yet. It would be much easier if I knew their tendencies so I could play the ball where they wanted it.”
Head coach Mike Jorden made the same point but also expressed disappointment. “There were a few bright spots, but overall we didn’t play very well. We just didn’t hold onto the ball well today – that was the disappointing part. That was one of the things we wanted to focus on, keeping the ball better, and we gave it away way too much. I thought last week we were a lot better than we were today.”
Team captain Lori Lindsey, meanwhile, was philosophical. “Obviously, we’re always here to win, so you want to get a result every time you step on the field. But it is preseason, so I think we’d rather instead of getting results figure out some areas that we need to work on and go from there.”
One matter of concern was that two players – Kika Toulouse and Colleen Williams – put in only a few minutes before they came off limping as they were subbed out. But Jorden wasn’t too concerned. “Just nagging injuries from training camp. I think they’ll both be okay, but we didn’t want to risk anything in a game like this.”
This is expected to be the only preseason game for most of the allocated players, as both national teams head to Europe. The US will be playing Germany, while Canada will be playing France and England. Only Lori Lindsey – not called into camp – will remain. Third round draft pick King will return to the team in May, once she’s finished school.
The next match – the third of the Spirit’s five preseason games – is back at the Soccerplex Saturday at 3 pm as they face the NCAA champion North Carolina Tarheels. Fans who can’t make it to Germantown should be able to watch streaming video of the game, as the Spirit test that setup prior to next month’s home opener.
Photos courtesy of Tony Quinn: http://www.tonyquinnphotos.com.
The Equalizer: Spirit draw Duke 0-0 in preseason fixture
Washington Spirit: Spirited Blue Devils hold Washington to 0-0 preseason result