Photos by Kelley Piper (@kpiperphotos)
After a week off for a FIFA Break, the Washington Spirit return home to the Maryland SoccerPlex to take on the North Carolina Courage. This will be the first matchup of the regular season for the two teams. The two teams faced off in Richmond, VA in the preseason finale, a 3-0 win for North Carolina.
7:00 PM ET on Saturday, April 14, 2018
Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, Maryland.
Projected Starting Lineup
Aubrey Bledsoe; Taylor Smith, Whitney Church, Estelle Johnson, Caprice Dydasco; Andi Sullivan, Meggie Dougherty Howard, Havana Solaun; Mallory Pugh, Ashley Hatch, Francisca Ordega
Rebecca Quinn is listed as out with a muscle strain in her hip. The Canadian international left the match early against Orlando on March 24. While Quinn traveled to France with the Canadian National Team, she did not see any time against France.
OUT: Rose Lavelle (left hamstring strain), Cheyna Matthews (pregnancy), Rebecca Quinn (right TFL muscle strain), Arielle Ship (right ACL recovery – D45)
QUESTIONABLE: Cali Farquharson (left tibial stress injury)
INTERNATIONAL DUTY: Yanara Aedo (CHI), Estefania Banini (ARG)
Key to Victory
Slow down the front line. When the Spirit played North Carolina in the preseason finale, the North Carolina front line tore the backline of the Spirit to shreds. If the Spirit want to come away with any points at all, it’s all about containing Lynn Williams and Crystal Dunn. But don’t get too focused on them because that is when Jessica McDonald will burn you. A strong performance from Church and Smith on the right side of the Spirit backline is vital.
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 defenders.
#5 – Whitney Church
- Age: 24
- Hometown: Ashburn, Virginia
#3 – Caprice Dydasco
- Age: 24
- Hometown: Honolulu, Hawaii
#24 – Estelle Johnson
- Age: 29
- Hometown: Fort Collins, Colorado
#4 – Rebecca Quinn
- Age: 22
- Hometown: Toronto, Canada
#7 – Taylor Smith
- Age: 24
- Hometown: Fort Worth, Texas
This offseason, the Spirit acquired Taylor Smith in a trade with North Carolina. They also added Rebecca Quinn with the number 3 overall draft pick. While the Spirit didn’t do a lot to improve their defense, the small changes will definitely help moving into 2018. Looking at the first game of the season, expect Smith to be at right back, Quinn to be at right center back, Estelle Johnson at left center back, and Caprice Dydasco at left back.
The biggest concern with this group is going to be that right side for a few different reasons. In the one preseason game where all five of these players saw time, they allowed three goals. Smith is great at getting forward and up into the play but has struggled at times getting back against tougher opponents. Also, while Quinn plays at center back for Canada, she has mentioned that she enjoys playing in the midfield role more, a spot she occupied regularly at Duke. With national team games happening frequently throughout the season as World Cup qualifiers approach, the Spirit will struggle to field a backline. Quinn and Smith have both been consistent call-ups over the past year and will likely continue to be in 2018. Luckily for the Spirit, there are midfielders on the roster that have experience playing on the backline.
Player to Watch
Rebecca Quinn has been capped by the Canadian National Team 37 times in her senior career. Since the Rio Olympics, Quinn has become a consistent name on the backline for Canada. With that comes a lot of lessons and leadership opportunities.
“I mean a lot of good takeaways from being with the national team. I think leadership is a big one. I’ve had to play a leadership role on the national team playing center back at a pretty young age so I think coming in as a rookie to the NWSL, I can show a bit of that as well. Then I think just playing with high-quality players. I mean the U.S., number one team in the world and playing against their national team on a regular basis will only be good for me going into France in 2019.”
Tomorrow’s preview will take a look at the midfield for the Spirit. This is the largest position group for Washington and one that head coach Jim Gabarra has talked a lot about since the draft.
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
Jordan Small and Tim Lawson catch up on all of the player movement and acquisitions, including the 2018 college draft.