A Washington Spirit Reserves team missing Gloria Douglas, Paula Germino-Watnick, and Kristin Schnurr gave up a goal in the closing seconds of second-half stoppage time to settle for a draw with their opponents, this time the Richmond Strikers. That’s the second time that’s happened this season. The Strikers, meanwhile, had as their star player U-17 WNTer Jordan Canniff, fresh off training with the professional Spirit team last Wednesday.
Washington controlled much of the play in the first half and twice had wide open chances at the net. Cammie Murtha managed it in the 30th minute but had no angle on the net. She sent the ball in anyway, but Richmond was able to keep the ball out. In the 38th minute, Lauren Lazo got around the goalkeeper and had only a defender at one post to beat, but she skied the ball.
The Reserves did get on the board in the 32nd minute. Alexis Tye played a phenomenal ball to spring Lana Spitler down the left side, and she was able to send it in.
The Strikers nearly tied it in the 44th minute when Alyssa Walker headed the ball towards goal, but keeper Emily Armstrong made a good save on a shot from near point blank range.
Richmond came out strong in the second half and put a lot of pressure on the Washington back line. The Strikers nearly tied it up in the 63rd minute when Mallory Guerts, subbed in at goalkeeper at halftime, whiffed at a back pass. But Richmond couldn’t get the ball on frame.
The tide turned the Reserve’s way around the 70th minute but not enough to get them a goal. In the 74th minute, Lazo was taken down in the box by the goalkeeper. Lazo took the penalty kick and sent it left but not with enough power to keep the goalkeeper from making an easy save.
With seconds left in the match, the Strikers sent a desperate long ball forward that hit defender Mia Gyau in the shoulder but kept going past her. Paige Franks ended up with the ball and sent it into the net from the left side of the field.
Since only one team from each division makes it into the postseason, the result puts the Spirit Reserves at risk for missing the playoffs: with the two draws, they’ve dropped four standings points while Richmond has only dropped two. The second half of the home-and-home is this Friday at 7, and the situation makes the game a must-win for Washington. A loss would all but eliminate them from contention, while a draw would leave them needing help from some other team.
Thanks to Jennifer Gordon for providing the information on which this match report was based.