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Spirit Fall to Portland as Local Stars Return to MoCo

The Washington Spirit fell to the visiting Portland Thorns 1-0 Saturday night in front of 3,284 fans at the Maryland SoccerPlex.

A 68th minute strike from Thorns substitute Ellie Carpenter was the difference in an otherwise statistically even contest. Carpenter’s goal was assisted by Tobin Heath, who crossed the ball from the right side which skipped across the box to Carpenter who was able to score the tap in from just inside the six-yard box.

Portland improved to 3-3-3 (12 points) on the season as Washington fell to 1-5-2 (5 points).

Washington led the contest with 14 shots and five corner kicks. The Spirit out-possessed the Thorns by a slim 50.8 percent - 40.2 percent margin.

Goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe recorded four saves on the evening. Her counterpart, Northwest High School alum, Britt Eckerstrom returned to make her first professional start in her hometown, and also recorded four saves on four Spirit shots on goal.

Eckerstrom, was drafted by the now defunct Western New York Flash in January of 2016 after leading Penn State University to a NCAA Women’s National Championship in 2015, grew up playing on the fields around at the stadium field at the Maryland SoccerPlex with the old Seneca Soccer Association, which has since been folded into Maryland Rush Montgomery. As she got older and increased her skills, she played travel soccer with Frederick Soccer Club with the Washington Area Girls Soccer League.

Last season, the Western New York relocated to North Carolina and shortly thereafter Eckerstrom was traded to the Portland Thorns. She took over as the starting goaltender for Portland this season when the Thorns regular starter Adrianna Franch went was injured in April. Franch is dealing with a meniscus tear in her knee.