Spirit Draws Nearly 8,000 Fans in Audi Field Debut, Continues Losing Streak
The Washington Spirit come up just short in 1-0 loss to the Portland Thorns at Audi Field in front of a club record 7,976 fans.
Portland scored the lone goal of the night in the 15th minute after a cross from Hayley Raso found Tobin Heath in space on the left side of the box, where Heath was able to finish the chance into the top left corner. It was Heath’s sixth goal of the season, and the Spirit’s 10th straight loss of the season. The Spirit are 0-12-2 in their last 14 games, winless since May 23.
Rose Lavelle showed her offensive abilities in midfield during the first 45 minutes, leading the Spirit in passing percentage with a 95.6 percent completion rate, racking up 26 total passes in the half.
At the other end of the field, captain Estelle Johnson caused headaches for opposing attackers, making five interceptions and winning possession 10 times, including a last ditch tackle on Thorns striker Ana Crnogorcevic, which prevented another scoring chance.
The Spirit’s best chance of the first half came from none other than Lavelle, who bent a left-footed shot from outside the box into the top right corner, forcing Thorns goalkeeper Adrianna Franch into a tough leaping save.
Caprice Dydasco was subbed on in the 64th minute, and had an immediate impact. Washington nearly equalized when Dydasco’s ambitious right footed shot from the edge of the box snuck over the bar in the 72nd minute. The Spirit had a total of six shots from outside the box in the game.
Both teams finished with nine shots on the night, and shared the ball equally, with Washington retaining 48 percent possession and Portland 52 percent. Washington nearly doubled Portland’s passing, with 372 passes to Portland’s 196.
Saturday’s game was the Spirit’s first ever at the newly-built Audi Field in Washington D.C.
“It was absolutely amazing,” said Spirit interim head coach Tom Torres. “We were honored and humbled to be able to play here.”
Midfielder Andi Sullivan and forward Arielle Ship both shared Torres’ praises for the grounds, citing the incredible atmosphere created by the support of the fans.
“There was something really special about tonight,” said Spirit midfielder Andi Sullivan. “It’s been really cool to come back home.”
Ship, who made her first appearance of the season after returning from a torn ACL, said, “This game was incredible for me. I don’t think I could’ve asked for a better environment for me to come back in.”
The Spirit’s next game will be their last of the season, a home tilt against Sky Blue FC at the Maryland Soccerplex on September 1, kicking off at 7:00 pm.
Top: Spirit midfielder, Andi Sullivan (6) takes a kick during the Spirit’s debut at Audi Field in Washington D.C. The Spirit came up just short losing 1-0 to the Portland Thorns.
Next: Spirit goaltender Aubrey Bledsoe (1) with the stop as defender Estelle Johnson (24) crashes into her during the 1-0 loss at Audi Field in Washington D.C.
Photos courtesy Washington Spirit.