Spirit attack shoots blanks in scoreless draw with Duke

It was a goalkeepers' night, and here Harris makes one of her big saves to preserve the shutout

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.

Consensus WOTM Ali Krieger ruled the right sideline for 90 minutes

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.”

Meanwhile, Diana Matheson was a close runner-up as she made plays throughout the attacking end

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.

Other coverage:

The Equalizer: Spirit draw Duke 0-0 in preseason fixture

Washington Spirit: Spirited Blue Devils hold Washington to 0-0 preseason result

Photos from KazLovesPinoe

6 thoughts on “Spirit attack shoots blanks in scoreless draw with Duke

  1. Terry Lash

    Great photos and good article. Disagree with coach that team played better in first game. At any rate the Spirit will have to play better against NC on saturday in order to win.

  2. John

    Will be interesting to see how squad evolves. Frankly the Spirit forwards aren’t striking fear into the hearts of their preseason opponents. Considering they were all playing w/ against each other last year this is reasonable. All 3 struggled w/ basics like coming to the ball, shielding off defenders, and getting their heads up to see options. DC needs a sharp learning curve from this group to be successful. Harris walks/crosses the line bet. instructive commentary and flat out bitching. When 2 teammates are discussing how to prevent the confusion that led to a breakdown and she’s ranting it’s hard to see a benefit there. Her RA tirade is certain to win her all the 50-50 calls this season also :). I wonder how well the squad is integrating. It seems the 3 allocated players are always together-I haven’t seen them making an effort to incorporate others w/ small talk, pairing up in warm ups. etc. Given their captaincy roles it might be wish to make a bigger effort along these lines.

    1. Momo

      Lack of time together between allocated players(both US and Canadians) and the young guns showed but that is to be expected when they spent literally only two days as a team.
      The defense was pretty solid with Harris, Krieger, Weigel and Gayle. Harris has always been a very vocal GK and this was not out of the norm, and while I did find her tirade against the RA to be in the excessive side (although from my understanding Harris was correct in that the offside call should have been made), it was easy to see the frustration not only from her but from the other vets as well, who maybe have been a bit too used to more experienced players around them.
      I have not been able to witness the camaraderie between teammates but again, that is something that ought to develop as the team spends more time together.
      The big red flag however is the lack of scoring potency. This is where an experienced vet like Natasha Kai is direly needed to guide the talented but inexperienced FW they have, or we can expect a lot of scoreless matches from the Spirit this season.

  3. Foster

    KazLovesPinoe thanks for the great photos. It should include KazLovesKrieg!
    As far as the game goes, let’s not panic just yet. Players have only been together for a very short time….it does take some time to gel, learn a new system and coaching. I don’t want to sugar-coat this since some of the other NWSL teams have done well in a very short time.
    So lets get to it: Pace has to be faster, constant turnovers, out of formation have nothing to do with time spent together, the players need to be responsible for that.
    The Coach’s need to find the BEST players(whether allocated or not) and play them now so they can get use to each other. To much experience sitting on the bench.
    Pro’s-Duke didn’t score…..great goaltending! When first looking at this team I would have thought defense would be their downfall but in 2 games they haven’t been scored upon.
    Con’s-Great players sitting on the bench(when they should be playing) and when they got in playing a foreign position. Second, where’s the offensive?
    No true experienced goal scorer! No true experienced defenders except Krieger.

    It’s still early and with the experience Coaching Staff, I’m sure they will figure it out!

    1. Kevin Parker Post author

      The team had Robyn Gayle on the day, so Krieger’s not the only experienced defender. They’ve also signed Chapman, though I’m not sure where she is. Assuming Garciamendez joins the team once she finishes school, she’ll be a solid asset – though a rookie, she’s got a tremendous upside.

      And I’d be curious to know which players you think should be starting instead.


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