In their first road match of the 2013 season, the Washington Spirit’s top amateur team easily shut out the Fredericksburg Impact, their local W-League rivals, on their brand new home pitch at the Fredericksburg Field House. Goals from Ashley Herndon and Katie Yensen provided the margin of victory.
The match really shouldn’t have been anywhere near that close. The Reserves had 19 shots total – Herndon had 11 all by herself – while the Impact only managed 4.
It took just 13 minutes for Washington to get on the board, as Kara Wilson sent a cross in from the right to Herndon’s feet that she one-touched into the net. Ten minutes later, Fredericksburg goalkeeper Jesse McGinley made a great reaction save to keep the score at one. Various other opportunities went wide or high or right to McGinley.
At the other end of the field, the Impact’s best chance of the game from the run of play came in the 43rd minute. as Caty Butler stole the ball at midfield and sent it through to Kara Blosser, who was behind the defense but sent her shot wide. They earned a free kick a minute later that went into the box, but with the ball in a dangerous location someone slammed into Spirit goalkeeper Didi Haracic and was called for the foul, ending that chance.
Reserves head coach Mark Parsons was less than delighted at halftime. Unhappy with his team’s finishing, he shrugged and said, “Could be 5-0, could be 1-1.”
He had to have been happy with the way the second half started, as the Spirit took control from the outset, bringing the ball forward and getting it into the box early. That threat was thwarted, but Jennifer Skogerboe deep in the far left corner managed to kick the ball out to Katie Yensen , who from the top left corner of the penalty area fired a shot that went into the right side netting. It was under two minutes into the second half, and Washington had already doubled their lead.
However, the further scoring that start seemed to promise never materialized. In the 53rd minute, the Spirit’s Wilson got behind the back line off a pass from Yensen but sent the ball wide. Somehow she managed to rescue it before it went out and sent a ball across right on the end line, close enough that an indication that the ball had crossed the line would not have been a surprise. But McGinley managed to recover and gather it in without any signal from the assistant referee.
Haracic had had little to do all match, but she earned her keep in the 69th minute after an Impact player was fouled in the box. Blosser stepped up to take the penalty kick, and the Spirit keeper was more than ready. “That’s a moment for a keeper to shine, really. I love PKs. I’ll take ’em any day. But it was mostly just reading the hips, obviously. They always tell you to read the hips, and at the last moment I glanced and saw she was going to turn that way, so that’s the side I went to.” Haracic leaped to her right and knocked the ball out for a corner kick that was cleared easily. That would be the sole Fredericksburg shot on goal the entire match.
Meanwhile, Herndon was comparatively quiet in the second half. Asked why this was after the game, she said, “They put a very physical person on me who kept sliding in no matter what.” And despite being clearly the best player on the pitch, she was a little disappointed in her performance. “A lot of them were coming to me. I had an early one, so I was lucky with that. But after that it kept coming to me but I couldn’t put them in. But we got the win, so that’s good.”
Parsons was pleased despite the issues. “For the third game running, we came out of the blocks really well and created opportunity after opportunity, forward players doing great to get in behind and work some opportunities but failed to take them. And we know that can be a big risk sometimes. But it’s good. It’s important to win, the two goals that we finally got. And defensively we were strong and stopped anything building up for them. It’s one where maybe we could have done better, but we got the three points. We’ve got to move forward and keep improving.”
The Spirit Reserves play again on Saturday, June 1, at 4 pm, not at the Soccerplex but at Liberty High School in Bealeton, VA. So all you NoVa folks who don’t want to make the odyssey to the Soccerplex don’t have an excuse.
Meanwhile the Impact are back at the Field House on Sunday, June 2, at 5 pm, as they take on the storied New Jersey Wildcats.
Photos courtesy of Larry J. Clark/Soccer-Shots.