Spirit goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris was on the firing line all night, playing behind another pieced together backline. She faced 10 shots on goal and 23 shots total (19 in the first half alone.) She managed seven saves--all of the spectacular variety. Harris' 77 saves are just seven behind Western New York's Adrianna Franch's league-leading total of 84.
With the injured Robyn Gayle, Candace Chapman, and Toni Pressley again unable to play, Tori Huster anchored the defense, joined by Kika Toulouse, Holly King, and Lindsay Taylor, who was replaced by the newly signed Marisa Abegg in the first half. Ali Krieger did make her return from a concussion suffered July 14, but did not enter until the 69th minute (and actually was positioned in the midfield.)
Goals by Western New York in the 36th (Adriana Martin), 59th (Samantha Kerr) and 68th (Carli Lloyd) minutes sealed the deal for another shutout loss for Washington.
The Flash gave Washington coach Mark Parsons a taste of his own medicine, giving high pressure from the opening whistle. Washington's midfield wasn't able to hold possession the majority of the match and the team hardly passed the centerline the entire first half.
The insertion of Krieger into the midfield in the second half energized the team and created some chances on the offensive end, though it only resulted in the team's one shot on goal in the 84th minute.
The Spirit meet Sky Blue FC (9-5-4)--another team decimated with injuries, but on the other end of the success spectrum--Saturday in Washington's final road match of the season at 7 p.m. ET at Yurcak Field in Piscataway Township, N.J. before heading home for three more home games.
I'm going to keep this short because this season has been painful (figuratively and literally) enough. There will be plenty of time for looking back and musing on the myriad reasons this season turned out the way it did when it's over in a couple weeks.
But here's what I have to say, and it's a message to the players of the Washington Spirit:
You have four games remaining. You've had a hell of a ride. We can see you are more united team now. You haven't given up and those that follow the team respect that. Many, many teams of less character wouldn't have had the strength to do so.
Now stop screwing around and win. Forget the injuries. Forget coaching challenges. Forget luck and every single logical or illogical reason you've only won one game.
None of that matters. It's up to all of you as players to show what you're made of.
Play like your future career depends on it.
Play like the health of this league depends on it.
Play because you deserve better than a one-win season.