For five years the Washington Spirit Reserves have been one of the class teams of the W-League. But in the post-season they’ve always been the bridesmaid, second or third while someone wins the crown. No more.
Today they claimed the W-League Championship in a tight, hard-fought battle with the Colorado Pride on two goals from Chilean National Teamer Yanara Aedo, the game-winner coming in the 89th minute.
On paper, it appeared that the Reserves had the stronger roster overall, though the Pride had both the better goalkeeper in W-League Goalkeeper of the Year Britt Eckerstrom and the most dangerous attacking player in Tara Andrews, the league’s leading scorer, leading goal scorer, and Most Valuable Player. In a game in which one big save or one opportunistic goal could turn the tide, there was no clear advantage. And certainly the Pride weren’t going to be intimidated by a strong roster after dealing with the Los Angeles Blues last year and the Seattle Sounders Women this year.
And that’s about the way it played out. Washington generally had the better of the play in the midfield but didn’t have the close-in teamwork or the killer instinct to get the ball in the net. Players would send in through balls without anyone making a run or with the run not matching where the ball was sent. Meanwhile, at the other end, Andrews lurked at the edge of the defensive line ready to pounce.