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Spirit Win at Home

The Washington Spirit (2-14-4, 10 points) recorded their first home victory of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) season with a 1-0 shutout of the Chicago Red Stars (7-8-5, 26 points) before 2,081 at Maureen Hendricks Field at Maryland SoccerPlex on August 7. The game was suspended twice by lightning alerts and abandoned due to a 12 a.m. curfew. The result was declared final per league rules.

The game was first stopped in the 77th minute and resumed after a 104-minute delay. It was stopped again in the 81st minute and suspended for another 53 minutes before the result was declared final.

“After all the things that have gone against us, maybe it was meant to be,” Spirit head coach Mark Parsons said following his first victory in charge. “I think this is a bit overdue. We wish that it had come a few weeks back, but we’ll take it.”

The victory snapped the Spirit’s 13-match winless streak since a 4-2 triumph at the Seattle Reign FC on May 16. Combined with the Western New York Flash’s 1-0 victory over Seattle, also on Wednesday, the result eliminated the Red Stars from NWSL postseason contention.

Mexican national team midfielder Lupita Worbis delivered the game-winner in the 58th minute, scoring her first NWSL goal on a give-and-go with Diana Matheson.

Playing in front of her parents, who’d recently traveled from Mexico to see their daughter play, Worbis displayed a fantastic piece of skill to put the Spirit ahead. After a 360-degree move to get through a defender, Worbis used her next touch to find Matheson before sprinting through the Red Stars back line. Matheson returned the ball right away, and Worbis calmly placed it underneath onrushing Chicago goalkeeper Erin McLeod to give Washington its first goal in three matches.

“I took the ball and spun around the player,” Worbis said. “I just found Diana Matheson, and she kicked it with one touch that was amazing. When I see the goal, I was just in front of the goalkeeper, and I just kicked the ball. That was a good goal.”

Parsons made a few significant alterations to his starting lineup, resting midfielder Lori Lindsey – who had been the only player to start all of Washington’s first 19 games – along with forward Conny Pohlers and goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris.

Chantel Jones made her fourth start of the year in the net, setting up behind a back line of Robyn Gayle, Holly King, Marisa Abegg and Tori Huster. Matheson, Worbis, Julia Roberts and Tiffany McCarty filled out the midfield while Stephanie Ochs and Jasmyne Spencer started at forward.

Jones recorded a trio of saves in the first half, including a denial of a close-range header by Jackie Santacaterina in the 18th minute. Matheson powered a drive at McLeod in the 28th minute for Washington’s best chance of the half, and the teams went into the locker rooms scoreless at the break.

Jones made her most daring stop five minutes into the second half, charging off her line to snare the ball and upend Adriana Leon.

Just before Worbis’ goal, Ali Krieger came off the bench to replace Spencer, making her first appearance after a four-game absence with concussion symptoms. Kika Toulouse also entered for Gayle, and Pohlers replaced McCarty just before the game was suspended.

Washington returns to action against Seattle Reign FC on Saturday, August, 10 at 7 p.m. at the SoccerPlex’s Maureen Hendricks Field, a match which will be broadcast nationally on FOX Soccer. Limited tickets are available online at Washington Spirit website.

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