Anybody who watched the NWSL last season knows the Washington Spirit didn’t have the season they were hoping for. With key losses due to injury and what some said was not the greatest allocated group, the Spirit had difficulties throughout the season. One of the biggest challenges the Spirit faced was its defense. Injuries to Robyn Gayle, Candace Chapman and Toni Pressley left the Spirit with the challenge of putting together a healthy back four.

This offseason the Spirit management staff made some upgrades to the defense but the injured players also got healthy over the offseason. With all the national team players that were brought in, a player that could be overlooked is Pressley. Last season she played in eight games before being sidelined for the season with a groin injury.

When looking at defenders’ stats it’s hard to see what they can bring to a team. That is because most of the time the things defenders are good at and the qualities they bring to a team are not always on the stat sheet. However, they can bring solid minutes, great energy and leadership. All of these things are qualities Pressley looks to bring this season.

“This season I look to bring intensity and a more vocal role to the team,” Pressley said. “Being a center back I need to be the most vocal player on the field so I am really going to focus on that aspect of my game.”

Injuries are a part of the game and can really change plans around for how a season goes. The Spirit are a team that knows this far to well. However, it can also change a players season and even how their off season training goes. Instead of focusing just on getting prepared for next season the player must also rehab injuries.

“This off season was different because I was hurt and had to undergo rehab for my groin,” Pressley said. “I’ve never really had to sit out or be completely shut down with no activity before so that was a new challenge for me.”

With preseason in full swing and the regular season just around the corner, teams are getting rosters down to size and players are getting into form. For the Spirit, the first game of the season provides a new test and it can’t come soon enough. Pressley, who hasn’t played since the beginning of last season, just wants to get back into game action.

“Being that I only played a few games before getting injured and then having to rehab for about 5 months, I am really excited and eager to get back on the field again,” Pressley said.

The Spirit’s first game of the season is April 13 at 4:00 pm ET at the Maryland Soccerplex as they take on the Western New York Flash.

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