Spirit Defeat Kansas City to Pad Playoff Cushion
By Kevin O’Rourke
The Washington Spirit, Germantown’s hometown pro-team, came back from a 1-0 early deficit to beat Football Club Kansas City- FCKC, 2-1 at the Maryland SoccerPlex last night. The game was fight for playoff points between two of the top teams in the National Women’s Soccer League.
While the Spirit got the big win, which earned them the precious 3 points, the game was in doubt until the 67th minute when Christine Narin took a sweet pass from Lisa De Vanna at the top of the box, and put it past Kansas City’s rookie goalkeeper, Nicole Barnhart, for what would be the game winning goal.
The scoring was opened by FC Kansas City in the first-half with a give-and-go play by Sara Hagen and US Women’s National Team stalwart defender Becky Sauerbrunn. Sauerbrunn stole the ball off a Spirit throw in, passed to Hagen, who fed the ball right back to the FCKC captain for a shot that went past Spirit goal keeper Ashlyn Harris. The first goal of the night was the 2013 NWSL Defender of the Year’s first career goal in the league. The half ended with the Spirit trailing by a goal.
The Spirit came back from the locker rooms looking for an equalizer. Spirit’s Kerstin Garefrekes found it in the 49th minute. A corner kick from Narrin found Garefrekes’ head but the shot was stopped, but the rebound was saved from going out up by Narin who was able to get it to the Spirit’s Lisa De Vanna. De Vanna, who was a halftime substitute, sent it back to Garefrekes who put it past Barnhart to even the score 1-1.
With the score tied, and three points on the line, the crowd of 2,744 fans at the Maryland SoccerPlex saw the intensity on the field rise after Garefrekes’ goal. De Vanna played a ball to the top of the box to find Narin. She fired a shot while Barnhart dove to try and save. The ball went just beyond Barnhart’s hands to put the Spirit up the 67th minute.
The Spirit came into Wednesday night’s game in fourth place in the league, while Kansas City holds the second spot. The victory moves the Spirit up to third place in the tight standings, over the Portland Thorns FC. The Spirit now turn their focus to Saturday’s match at the SoccerPlex with the Chicago Red Stars. The game starts at 6:30 pm and tickets are still available.
The NWSL playoff race is a tight one for the third and fourth of the four playoff slots. As of today the Spirit (9-8-4) hold third place with 31 points, Portland is in fourth place with 30 points (8-7-6), Chicago (7-6-7) is in fifth place looking in at the playoffs with 28 points. The Western New York Flash (7-10-3) have an outside shot with 24 points.
The Spirit’s remaining schedule doesn’t make the playoffs a sure-thing, with Chicago gunning for a six point swing with a victory on Saturday. The other two remaining games are a road game against league the league leading Seattle Reign, lead by USWNT goal keeper Hope Solo, on August 9 and a final home game against New Jersey-based Sky Blue FC, lead by USWNT standout Christie Rampone on August 16.
For ticket information visit WashingtonSpirit.com