The Washington Spirit came up just short again on Wednesday night, falling 1-0 to Utah Royals FC in front of 3,318 fans at the Maryland SoccerPlex. It was the Spirit’s first game under interim Head Coach Tom Torres. The Spirit fired Head Coach Jim Gabbara on Tuesday, with three games left in his third season as the helm.
Washington goalkeeper DiDi Haracic turned in a 10-save performance which included multiple challenging stops in each half. Utah’s Amy Rodriguez netted the only goal of the night in the 12th minute, finishing a chance from close range into the bottom right corner, after an initial save by Haracic.
Utah (8-7-8, 32 pts) moves to fourth in the NWSL standings, with Washington (2-16-4, 10 pts) staying in eighth. The game was the Spirit’s first under interim head coach Tom Torres.
Haracic, has been the backup most of the season and showed impressive reflexes in the 38th minute, stopping two close-range shots from Rodriguez, leaping to protect her top left corner on the first, and diving right to palm away the second. Haracic, who grew up in nearby Loudoun County and played her college soccer at Loyola University in Baltimore, made five saves in each half.
Royals FC racked up 14 shots in the first half, including 11 shots in the box. Utah also retained 58 percent possession to the Spirit’s 41 percent in the first 45 minutes.
Washington’s best chance to equalize came in the 52nd minute, when Taylor Smith served a sharp cross to Ashley Hatch in the middle of the box, who just sliced the right-footed shot wide right.
Haracic, in just her second appearance for the Spirit this season, continued to stall tall in goal during the second half, making a spectacular two-handed diving save after a floating header from Gunnhildur Yrsa Jonsdottir threatened the top right corner in the 59th minute. Fourteen minutes later in the 73rd, Haracic took flight again, diving left and saving a dangerous bending shot from Taylor Lytle. Haracic ended the night with 10 saves.
The Spirit’s next game is against the third place Portland Thorns, and will be Washington’s debut at Audi Field on August 25, with an 8:00 pm kickoff.
Top: Utah’s Amy Rodriguez (8) netted the only goal of the night in the 12th minute, finishing a chance from close range into the bottom right corner, after an initial save.
Next: One of Washington goalkeeper DiDi Haracic’s (21) 10-saves which included multiple challenging stops in each half.
Next: Spirit defender Whitney Church (5) clears the ball from the box during Wednesday’s match versus Utah at the SoccerPlex.
Photos by Germantown Pulse.