The Spirit (2-2-0) rebounded from Wednesday's loss in Seattle with an inspired 1-0 victory over the Chicago Red Stars (1-1-0) Saturday night in front of 1,822 in Lisle, Illinois.
Washington defender Tori Huster provided the lone goal for either club as high winds and cold temperatures played a major factor in the match. At times, winds were so strong, the ball was rolling prior to corner and freekicks.
As expected after a hectic eight-game span, Mark Parsons altered his lineup to get some fresh legs on the field with midfielder Jordan Angeli and defender Bianca Sierra getting their first starts of the season. Lori Lindsey started in midfield, playing one half. This time the one-two punch of Crystal Dunn and Veronica Perez came on at the half.
Chicago's most dangerous opportunity of the first half came in the 45th minute when forward Adrianna Leon's shot that hit the post. But Washington managed to get to halftime unscathed.
It was indeed, a bit ironic that Washington was able to best Chicago on set pieces and corner kicks, though the wind played a factor on nearly all of them. The Spirit moved a defender to the far post and were able to fend away several dangerous chances, with a little help from the post.
While it may have been tempting for a weary Washington side to pack it in and play for a 0-0 tie to pick up a point on the road, the team did anything but that starting the second half and it was clear the Spirit were gunning for the three valuable points on the line.
"It's a bit of a six-pointer, if that makes sense," Parson said last week. "You've got to grab points and not let them get points on you."
A two-minute series that involved a Spirit free kick from inside 25 years, and corner kick, led to the goal that delivered those much-needed points. After the corner, which wasn't cleanly cleared by Chicago, Danesha Adams sent a cross in that found an open Tori Huster in front of goal. Red Stars goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc really had no chance at stopping Huster's header for the goal in the 51st.
Worth noting is an apparent--and uncalled--foul by Washington forward Renae Cuéllar just prior to Adams' cross, with a shove of Red Stars defender Michelle Wenino. It was a relatively physical match with four cautions being issued (one for Chicago, three for Washington.)
The Spirit then had to survive an onslaught of scoring chances down the stretch with Chicago desperate for the equalizer. Washington Head Coach Mark Parsons brought on Jodie Taylor, took off Sierra, and moved Crystal Dunn to left back in the 82nd minute, a move that allowed Washington to keep pushing forward on offense, while solidifying the defense with the rested legs of Dunn, who only played the second half.
Washington had to gut out a difficult win in their third game in eight days, and also playing without Christine Nairn for the first time this season. Nairn, who suffered a quadriceps strain against Seattle.
"It's very pleasing to pick up three points on the road against a very tough team," said Head Coach Mark Parsons. "It's been a long stretch for us and to put in a performance like that shows the character of this team. Grabbing a clean sheet is very important to us and although we defended as a team, the back four and Ashlyn really deserve that after all of their hard work these opening games. Preparation for Seattle starts now."
After the game Parsons and Huster tweeted nods to Tiffany Weimer, at home preparing for surgery to repair her torn ACL.
Thanks for the love tonight everyone! Great team win. Remembering it's all #forOCHO— Tori Huster (@torihuster) April 27, 2014
Washington travels home today, and will prepare for the May 3 Seattle rematch at the Maryland SoccerPlex. The overall series between the two teams now stands locked at two wins and two losses a piece.
Goals by Half 1 2 F
CHI 0 0 0
WAS 0 1 1
WAS - Tori Huster (Danesha Adams) 50'
Chicago: GK Karina LeBlanc, Rachel Quon, Julie Johnston, Jackie Santacaterina, Michelle Wenino, Julianne Sitch (Kecia Morway 82'), Alyssa Mautz (Zakiya Bywaters 56'), Lori Chalupny (C), Vanessa DiBernardo, Adriana Leon, Jen Hoy (Hayley Brock 79')
Subs not used: Samantha Johnson, Niki Read, Taylor Vancil
Washington: GK Ashlyn Harris, Ali Krieger, Tori Huster, Toni Pressley, Bianca Sierra (Jodie Taylor 82'), Yael Averbuch, Lori Lindsey (Crystal Dunn 46'), Jordan Angeli (Veronica Perez 46'), Diana Matheson, Danesha Adams, Renae Cuellar
Subs not used: Robyn Gayle, Chantel Jones, Christine Nairn, Cecilie Sandvej
WAS: Bianca Siera (Yellow Card) 55'
CHI: Julie Johnston (Yellow Card) 65'
WAS: Crystal Dunn (Yellow Card) 70'
WAS: Diana Matheson (Yellow Card) 71'
Referee: Mark Allatin
Assistant Referees: Ryan Cook, Khalef Al-Latayfeh
Fourth Official: Greg Dopka
Weather: 45 degrees, windy