Aubrey BledsoeCaprice DydascoGame Day CoverageRebecca QuinnTaylor SmithTori Huster

On Saturday night, the Washington Spirit and Houston Dash were set to face off at the Maryland SoccerPlex, but Mother Nature had other plans.

According to the National Weather Service, more than six inches of rain fell in the area on Saturday. That caused flooding on the field and the referees deemed it unplayable. The game was rescheduled and played on Sunday morning with a 10 a.m. local kickoff.

“You tailor your whole day towards the game,” Spirit defender Rebecca Quinn said. “I know a couple of the players were having caffeine at a little later hours of the night so it was a bit tough getting to bed yesterday. I think it’s fun having it at our normal training so we’re normally ready to go at 10 a.m. in the morning so that wasn’t too bad.”

Right from the get go, the pace was flying. Francisca Ordega nearly scored in the first minute but Dash goalkeeper Jane Campbell was able to keep it out. In the third minute, Dash forward Rachel Daly got on the end of a Sofia Huerta ball and put it past an on rushing Spirit goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe.

Kelley Piper | Follow Your Spirit
Rachel Daly scores the lone goal of the game, beating Aubrey Bledsoe and Tori Huster.

Spirit find success in 3-5-2 formation

Washington continued to press for much of the game but never found the back of the net. In total, the Spirit managed nine shots on goal and 11 corner kicks, both season highs. Much of that success had to do with the formation that head coach Jim Gabarra had them playing. A 3-5-2 with Quinn, Estelle Johnson, and Tori Huster in the back and Taylor Smith and Caprice Dydasco as wingbacks on the outside provided Washington with the attacking presence that has been missing for most of the season.

“I think that’s always a positive with our wingbacks, as you would call it, getting forward,” Quinn said. “Especially with Taylor getting a lot of options end line. She gave us some really good chances in both halves. I think that’s the main positive coming out of that formation. Then as well, me and Tori were able to get into some good spaces to distribute into our forwards as well.”

Kelley Piper | Follow Your Spirit
Taylor Smith plays a ball into the attack during the second half.

Field conditions greatly improved on Sunday

Despite the dumping of water that occurred on Saturday, the field managed to drain fairly well overnight. With rain showers stopping around midnight, the field was able to dry out to become playable on Sunday. There did not appear to be any standing water inside the lines, unlike Saturday night. Saturday evening, there were huge puddles stretching from one 18 yard box to the other.

“Yeah, I was pleasantly surprised coming out here this morning with how it drained out,” Quinn said. “I was a little bit skeptical when they were saying it only took an hour but I guess they were right, the grounds crew. It wasn’t bad at all, there weren’t any puddles. I was pretty happy with it.”

Jordan Small | Follow Your Spirit
Starting XI: Aubrey Bledsoe; Tori Huster, Estelle Johnson, Rebecca Quinn; Caprice Dydasco, Meggie Dougherty Howard, Estefania Banini, Andi Sullivan, Taylor Smith; Ashley Hatch, Francisca Ordega

Next Up

The NWSL will take next weekend off as the United States plays host to Japan, Australia, and Brazil in the Tournament of Nations. When action gets back underway on August 5, the Spirit will head out to the west coast to take on the Seattle Reign. That will be the first of three games the Spirit will play on the road.

Game Day CoverageGame PreviewMaddie HusterTori Huster

In the only match during the FIFA International Break, the Washington Spirit will travel to New Jersey to take on Sky Blue FC. Both teams are on losing streaks and are missing key pieces to their lineups.

Kick-Off

7:00 PM ET on Friday, June 8, 2018

Location

Yurcak Field in Piscataway, New Jersey

Projected Starting Lineup

Aubrey Bledsoe; Taylor Smith, Whitney Church, Estelle Johnson, Caprice Dydasco; Andi Sullivan, Joanna Lohman, Meggie Dougherty Howard; Tiffany Weimer, Ashley Hatch, Estefania Banini

Noteworthy

Maddie and Tori Huster will become the first pair of sisters to take the field for the same team in NWSL history. Maddie was signed earlier this week as a national team replacement player. She was drafted in the third round of the 2018 NWSL Draft and has spent time with the Spirit Reserves in recent years.

Injuries

OUT: Mallory Eubanks (right ankle sprain), Cali Farquharson (left tibial stress injury -D45), Cheyna Matthews (pregnancy), Mallory Pugh (right knee swelling), Arielle Ship (right ACL recovery –D45), Havana Solaun (left knee chondral avulsion)

QUESTIONABLE: Ashley Hatch (left hip flexor soreness), Tori Huster (right groin soreness), Kelsey Wys (right knee swelling)

INTERNATIONAL DUTY: Yanara Aedo (CHI), Rose Lavelle (USA), Francisca Ordega (NGA), Rebecca Quinn (CAN)

Key to Victory

Score. The Spirit have really struggled to score as of late and they are facing another snake bitten team. The last time out against Sky Blue, one goal was all the Spirit needed to get the victory. If they can get a goal despite a depleted front line, a win should be in order.

Stream

Go90

Twitter

Follow @spiritcoverage and @jols98 for game updates and to keep your timeline to date with our Washington Spirit coverage on Twitter.

Aubrey BledsoeDiana MathesonEstelle JohnsonGame Day CoverageRebecca QuinnTori Huster

The Washington Spirit traveled to Utah to face off with the Royals for the first time in franchise history. Utah came out on top with a 2-0 victory.

Kelley O’Hara opened the scoring in the 7th minute when she snuck in behind the Spirit defense and beat Aubrey Bledsoe. Utah midfielder Diana Matheson doubled the scoring in the 66th when she beat Estelle Johnson to the ball. She then chipped Bledsoe for her first goal of the season.

Offense Struggles

Washington’s offense struggled mightily on Saturday evening. It was the first time all season that the Spirit failed to score a goal. Much of that had to do with the fact that the Spirit only managed to get one shot on goal of the 12 shots taken on the day. After being one of the top teams when it comes to shots taken this season, the Spirit were unable to muster much when it came to quality chances in the final third. Much of that had to do with the poor touches and passes that Washington had throughout the game. With the Spirit being shut out, Francisca Ordega’s goal scoring streak has officially come to an end.

Tori Huster Subbed Out Early

Tori Huster was subbed out after 36 minutes of play on Saturday. It did not appear as if she was injured. Rebecca Quinn replaced her, earning her first minutes since week 2 against Orlando. Huster did not seem to be playing her best soccer from the start but it was really problem as a whole. It is unclear if it was a tactical decision based on her play or an attempt to spark the rest of the team. Regardless, the play of the team did not appear to get much better when Quinn entered.

Next Up

The Washington Spirit will continue the road trip when they take on North Carolina on Saturday, May 12. That match is scheduled to kickoff at 7:00 p.m. ET. It will be the third time since March that these two teams have met and the second time this regular season. In the first regular season matchup, the Spirit fell 4-2 at the Maryland SoccerPlex.

Estefania BaniniHavana SolaunJoanna LohmanMeggie Dougherty HowardRose LavelleTori Huster

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.

The Group

#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

Expectations

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.”

Next Up

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.

Alyssa KleinerAndi SullivanArielle ShipAshley HatchAubrey BledsoeBriana ScurryCheyna WilliamsDiDi HaracicEstelle JohnsonHavana SolaunJim GabarraJoanna LohmanJordan SmallKelsey WysMallory PughPodcastPreaseasonRebecca QuinnRose LavelleSchuyler DeBreeShelina ZadorskySpirit SquadronStephanie LabbeTaylor SmithTori HusterWhitney Church

Joanna Lohman smiles at ref

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!

Jordan: @Jols98

Tim: @TimLawson21

Follow Your Spirit: @SpiritCoverage