Spirit Keep Playoff Hopes Alive with Win Over Flash
The Washington Spirit traveled to Sahlen Stadium in Rochester, New York and defeated the WNY Flash 1-0 on July 12.
The Spirit were able to hold onto the lead after converting a penalty kick in the 53rd minute, giving them sole possession of 3rd place in the league standings and bringing them to 8-7-2 on the season.
Spirit Head Coach Mark Parsons toyed with his starting lineup from the team’s last match, a 3-3 draw with the Boston Breakers. This time, Christine Nairn and Tori Huster would start on the bench, making room for Kerstin Garefrekes and Yael Averbuch in the starting eleven. This was Garefrekes’ first start as a member of the Spirit.
The Flash was still without USWNT forward Abby Wambach who is recovering from an LCL sprain to her left knee. A notable change for the Flash moved Amy Barczuk to the center of defense with Brittany Taylor in place of Kat Williamson to start the match.
In just the 3rd minute, a foul by Niki Cross led to a Carli Lloyd free kick from close to 30 yards out, which forced an early save from goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris
In the 10th minute Flash goalkeeper Lydia Williams landed awkwardly after taking a ball out of the air off a corner, forcing an early sub as 23-year-old Kelsey Wys entered the match.
The Flash had several chances to take the lead through Jasmine Spencer, though she was unable to finish her opportunities.
The best chance of the half came with 15 minutes left as Spencer hit a shot from inside the box that went past goalkeeper Harris and hit the post for a rebound that the Flash were unable to capitalize on.
The half ended 0-0.
Neither team elected to make any changes going into the second half.
Things got interesting in the 53rd minute, when Garefrekes received a ball through in behind the Flash defense that left her 1v1 with Wys. Defender Katherine Reynolds was able to make enough contact from behind to take Garefrekes down in the box, granting a penalty kick for the Spirit and a red card for Reynolds.
Diana Matheson converted the PK, giving the Spirit a 1-0 lead.
The Flash subbed on Teigen Allen for Jasmine Spencer as a result of the red card, and in the 68th minute the Spirit made their first sub, bringing on Christine Nairn for Lori Lindsey.
The Flash pushed forward in the last 15 minutes, but without success. The Spirit had the opportunity to make it 2-0 in the last minute of extra time, but Nairn put it just over the bar.
The game ended 1-0 with the Spirit winning the series between the two teams and moving into third place in the standings. It’s a quick turnaround for the Spirit, who take the field again this Thursday when they travel to Houston for their third and final meeting with the Dash.