One of the appeals of soccer for me is the feeling that every moment counts, that a single lapse in play at any moment could cost you the match, or a little extra effort could win it. Other sports like (American) football or baseball have more of an ebb and flow – a goal-line stand or a three-two pitch – where some moments clearly matter than others, which has a different sort of appeal.
The critical moment in this match came at the 71:10 mark. Spirit rookie Meggie Dougherty Howard is bringing the ball forward at midfield and tries to send it on to fellow rookie Mallory Pugh. But she doesn’t get much on the ball, and Breakers defender Brooke Elby makes a quick dash forward to intercept it. She charges down the right, then centers for Rosie White, who takes a shot that goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé has to leap to save.
On the ensuing corner kick, Rosie White sends it short to former Washington Spirit Reserve Midge Purce. The Spirit have done an execrable job of setting up to defend the short corner with no one out to mark Purce or White. Francisca Ordega – probably fairly low on the list of players Gabarra would pick to defend a quick, dangerous forward like Purce – rushes out to challenge, but Purce easily dodges around her to get off a hard, low shot that somehow makes it past Labbé for her first professional goal.