With an over-capacity crowd of 4,569 at the Maryland SoccerPlex and over 2,000 people watching the live stream, fans were treated to a hard-fought battle between the Western New York Flash and the Washington Spirit that ended in a 1-1 draw.
Washington Spirit seemed to be dominated early on. They maintained possession and moved up and down the field, keeping the Flash from having any real chances. Diana Matheson was Washington’s star player of the match. She was able to get forward and make crosses while enabling the Spirit to obtain multiple corner kicks. Unfortunately, the Spirit were unable to make many chances from those opportunities.
Towards the end of the half the Spirit seemed to be slowing down and the Flash stepped up. Wambach sent a header high, catching the cross bar. A little later she got her head on another ball, sending it straight on goal. Harris came up big with a save, keeping the score 0-0 in the first half.
In the second half, the Spirit had a few more corners that they were unable to score from. Most of the attacks came from the right side, where Krieger and Matheson were working well together. Krieger did a great job the whole game to stop the Flash’s offense, going head-to-head with Wambach on several occasions. The Flash failed to properly mark her, so Krieger was able to push forward as well and create opportunities.
Kerr was definitely Flash’s player of the game. She kept attacking, forcing the Spirit backline to constantly watch her. She was able to get several crosses to Wambach as well, including the near goal in the first half. Taylor also did well, keeping the Spirit from having their way near the box. She was able to stop several of Ochs’ crosses from finding their mark. The Flash tried to send several long balls into the box for Wambach, but those never ended up promising. They would have done better to maintain possession and push forward as a group.
Lori Lindsey had a decent shot in the 71st minute but the Spirit were unable to really test Franch, despite the pressure they put around the box. The Flash forced Harris to make a save in the 81st minute as well. Not long after, Wambach was able to get her head on the ball and send it towards Ker, who put it in the back of the net giving the Flash a 1-0 lead with under ten minutes left of play.
A few minutes later, in the 87th minute, the Spirit were back on the offensive. A foul in the box gave them a chance to even the score. Matheson stepped up to take the penalty and put it in without a problem.
The last several minutes were a mad scramble for the ball, as both teams aggressively wanted to take home the win. Unfortunately, the score stayed tied 1-1. It was an intense game, especially in the last ten minutes. Since it was only the second game, look for the teams to improve. There were a few missed chances on both sides, simply because the players had difficulty reading each other. Watch for the Krieger-Matheson dynamic and also Wambach-Kerr powerhouse in the future.
NOTE: Late in the second half Wambach was hit in the face by a ball sent from her teammate Brittany Taylor. Fans could see that Wambach was visibly shook up after the match with her USWNT teammates Harris and Krieger surrounding her and motioning for the medical team to come onto the field. Wambach will reportedly undergo concussion tests on Monday.