Photos by Kelley Piper (@kpiperphotos)
With the 2018 season beginning on Saturday, Follow Your Spirit brings you a break down of each position group on the Washington Spirit. Next up, the midfielders.
#27 – Yanara Aedo
- Age: 24
- Hometown: Temuco, Chile
#10 – Estefania Banini
- Age: 27
- Hometown: Mendoza, Argentina
#8 – Meggie Dougherty Howard
- Age: 22
- Hometown: Largo, Florida
#23 – Tori Huster
- Age: 28
- Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio
#16 – Rose Lavelle
- Age: 22
- Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio
#15 – Joanna Lohman
- Age: 35
- Hometown: Silver Spring, Maryland
#12 – Morgan Profitt
- Age: 23
- Hometown: Columbus, Indiana
#9 – Havana Solaun
- Age: 25
- Hometown: Gainesville, Florida
#6 – Andi Sullivan
- Age: 22
- Hometown: Lorton, Virginia
With the number one overall draft pick, the Spirit selected Andi Sullivan. Washington also acquired Rose Lavelle from Boston in the dispersal draft. It is tough to say what the starting lineup will be with this group. It will come down to which formation head coach Jim Gabarra decides on. In years past and this year’s preseason, Gabarra has played with three in the midfield. If this is the case for this year, expect to see Andi Sullivan, Meggie Dougherty Howard and Havana Solaun in the midfield.
While Estefania Banini is listed as a midfielder on the roster, expect to see her as a forward in the 4-3-3 system. Lavelle did not play in either preseason match and is not expected to be ready right away. Once she returns, Gabarra will be faced with the decision of whether or not to switch to a 4-4-2 instead. The midfield group is the deepest of all of the positions, however, many players are very similar. There are four to five players who could be classified as defensive midfielders. It will be interesting to see how this plays into the offense dynamic of the team.
Player to Watch
Andi Sullivan, a Lorton, Virginia native, returns to Washington after four years on the west coast at Stanford. Sullivan played three seasons for the D.C. United Women and Spirit Reserves. With the number one pick in the 2018 NWSL College Draft, Washington selected Sullivan to return to D.C.
“[Being picked first overall] was interesting,” Sullivan said after practice on Friday. “It’s funny, you dream about being a pro your whole life and to know it’s actually happening was very cool. I wish I could have been at the draft but I was in LA. I was hanging out with Savannah McCaskill, who got picked second, so that was pretty cool because it was a similar situation. There was just so much going on but it was obviously super exciting and I was just really happy.”
Unlike most rookies, Sullivan is very familiar with the city she was drafted by. It’s the small things in life that Sullivan is most relieved about.
“I love [being back in the area],” Sullivan said. “I think it’s also made this transition into pro life a lot easier being familiar with the area and a lot of the players and the facilities and everything. And the roads even, a lot of little things that you would maybe take for granted when you’re in a new place. It just feels like I’m back at home so it’s very comforting.”
Tomorrow’s preview will take a look at the forwards for the Spirit. This will be the final group preview before the season opener on Saturday, March 24.
Jordan Small and Timothy Lawson connect after four weeks since the last podcast. The two hosts cover every bit of news that has released in February, plus a couple announcements for Follow Your Spirit. Enjoy!
Follow Your Spirit: @SpiritCoverage
The Washington Spirit traveled to the west coast for the first time this season on Saturday when they took on the Seattle Reign. Memorial Stadium was once again not kind to the Spirit as they fell to the Reign 6-2.
Reign forward Nahomi Kawasumi had a hand in five of the six goals with four assists and a goal of her own. The offensive explosion from the Reign is the second time they have scored five or more goals already this season.
Seattle went into halftime up 2-0 off of goals from former Spirit midfielder Christine Nairn and forward Beverly Yanez. The Spirit would get a goal back in the 60th minute when former Reign midfielder Havana Solaun beat Seattle goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer from the penalty spot. Washington was awarded the penalty after Cheyna Williams’ cross hit the outstretched arm of Rachel Corsie.
After the goal from Washington, Seattle would score four goals in 11 minutes. Megan Rapinoe had a brace sandwiched in between goals from Kawasumi and Lindsay Elston. Kristie Mewis got one back for the Spirit in the 88th minute to make it 6-2.
“If we had scored a second goal when it was 2-1 I think we could have come away with a win, but credit to Seattle for staying aggressive and punishing us defensively,” head coach Jim Gabarra said. “I was proud of our team for fighting until the finish and getting another goal at the end.”
The one positive for the Spirit from Saturday evening was the addition of U.S. Women’s National Team star Mallory Pugh. Pugh was picked up with the number one allocation spot that was acquired through multiple offseason trades. The 19-year-old is set to make her debut on Saturday, May 20 when the Spirit welcome FC Kansas City to the Maryland SoccerPlex. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
The Washington Spirit picked up their first point of the season after they played the Orlando Pride to a 1-1 draw. The match was the first ever Pride match at the new Orlando City Stadium.
Line Sigvardsen Jensen opened up the scoring in the 60th minute off of a corner kick from Shelina Zadorsky. The original corner kick was punched away by Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris, but the rebound fell to the head of Sigvardsen Jensen just past the penalty spot. The lofted header was the first NWSL goal in her career.
The Pride would get the goal back in the 86th minute when rookie Danica Evans slipped through the Spirit defense and around goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé for the equalizer. After a solid game as a backline, the Spirit could not control a late game Pride attack.
Labbé had a lighter workload this week as she was forced to make only five saves. Her biggest play of the evening came when she closed out Brazilian midfielder Marta, who was making her NWSL debut. Labbé’s effort caused Brazilian to shoot the potential game-winner just wide of the net.
The Spirit offense created more chances against the Pride, registering six shots on goal. Much of the offensive improvement came from the play of Havana Solaun and rookie Lindsay Agnew. Solaun made her first start of the year and Agnew made her professional debut coming on in the 19th minute after forward Katie Stengel went down with an injury. Agnew’s substitution marked the third the third injury substitution head coach Jim Gabarra has been forced in a little over 119 minutes of play. Despite the injury bug, Gabarra was upbeat about the team’s effort.
“It was a better performance than our first match, so it’s a step in the right direction,” Gabarra said.
Washington will be back in action on Saturday, April 29 as they host the Houston Dash at the Maryland SoccerPlex. The Dash are coming off of a 5-1 defeat on the road in Seattle. US national team goalkeeper Jane Campbell made her professional debut for the Dash in the loss. Kickoff for the April 29th matchup is set for 7 p.m.
As the 2017 NWSL season approaches, we will be rolling out profiles on the 2017 Washington Spirit roster.
Name: Havana Solaun
Hometown: Gainesville, Florida
College: University of Florida
Last season: Havana Solaun played for the Seattle Reign in 2016. She played in just six matches for the Reign, starting in three. Solaun scored one goal, a game-winner on June 12, 2016. The Spirit acquired Solaun’s rights in a trade that sent Christine Nairn back to Seattle.
2017 season: Solaun has seen limited action in the three preseason matches for the Spirit. It appears as though Solaun will be primarily used as a sub. Solaun will look to come on as a spark in the midfield and pick up more minutes in 2017. After a season-ending injury in the 2015 preseason, Solaun will look to have a breakout year and establish herself at the professional level.