Spirit Stun Wave at Brunch
The Washington Spirit entered the match undefeated, only one of two teams still undefeated in the NWSL. The crowd of 12,232 will have Audi field electrified this afternoon. Coach Mark Parsons has led this squad to new heights already early on and set a bar for success unlike anyone else. He leans on his player experience and takes what he feels is a fair approach to player development and club goals. You won't get flare from Parsons or sensational quotes. He stays on message and holds things close to the chest, especially when it comes to player injuries and how they're progressing. Mark has a lot of young talent on his squad mixing in talented players who are in their prime. Ashley Hatch has dominated in his system of play and is tied for the league lead in goals early on. The team also has the young 15-year-old sensation, Chloe Ricketts, Chloe has been eased into things under Parsons. He wants to make sure she is set up for success. She has played 66 minutes throughout 4 games for the Spirit. Each time she is called upon you can see growth in her game and the magic that the team saw in her to make the big decision to bring a 15-year-old player into the pro ranks. The way Mark runs the ship it's given Chloe, much-needed room to grow, and learn from her experienced teammates so that she can be the best player possible for the club. It's allowing her to work hard in training and develop more skills while also getting rid of bad habits. Today we expect to see Hatch, Sanchez, Rodman, and Stabb excel in the Brunch at Audi Field match against the San Diego Wave.
The San Diego Wave come into the match as a middle-of-the-pack team, they're led by veteran USWNT player Alex Morgan who is up in the leader charts for goals which is a shock to no one who follows the game. She's been a dominant finisher her entire career for country and club. After the success the Wave found in the first season last year this season has been a disappointing start for the second-year club. Morgan has seen some help from Jaedyn Shaw and Amirah Ali. The surprise this season is the lack of production from Taylor Kornieck, surely, she will find her form again as she is battling to make the World Cup roster for Team USA this year.
The first half saw the Spirit dominate early and often in the match, just 7' into the match Ashley Sanchez found herself wide open 30 yards from the goal and it took every inch of Kailen Sheridan's hands to tip it over the crossbar for a corner kick. Washington has controlled the midfield and final third for pretty much the entire half, we saw a harsh foul call on Trinity Rodman in the 20' of play on a clean challenge that was misread by the center. Minutes later Trinity danced in the box and found Sanchez open from the spot, but an unbalanced Sanchez sent the great pass in space wide of the 2nd post. It was another golden chance for the Spirit who have yet to score despite the dominant control of play. The Spirit have outshot the Wave 7 to 1, all the shots have been high quality and dangerous opportunities. The Spirit had a good crowd in attendance for the matinee game. Rodman in the 45' makes a beautiful run going 1 v 2 and getting a great look from 18 yards out, just couldn't get enough power behind the shot at the 2nd post to beat Sheridan. The fourth official shows a minimum of 5' added to the first half.
"Don't believe the hype, stay focused, stay grounded. It was a good win but we're not there yet. We have a ways to go first we were down here, and now we're here but we still need to reach up here to be greatness. Keep fighting, keep pushing, we're on our way to our goals. Don't let the hype get in the way, ignore it. Enjoy the win and let's get back to work." -- Head Coach Mark Parsons Washington Spirit
I would expect to see Mark settle his squad in the locker room and remind them they're playing a good game, but they need to capitalize on their chances. They have the Wave on the ropes trying to survive and the squad needs to go for the knockout to bring home the win, the only result that should be accepted in such a dominant performance. Sheridan is doing her best to keep the score at zero to give her Wave teammates a chance to pull out a late shocking winner. We may see coach Casey go to her bench at halftime to give the Wave a much-needed spark. The Wave have been outplayed in every third of the pitch today and have been lucky to still have a chance for any points.
The second half does see Casey make a change bringing in Belle Briede for Jaedyn Shaw at halftime. The Wave gain a little spark in the second half start but still, the Spirit controlled the game and dictated the pace of play so far early on in a similar fashion to the play we saw in the first half. In the 55' Trinity Rodman capitalizes, Wave defender Cristan Joan tried to toe the ball back to her keeper to keep Rodman from a scoring chance but didn't get enough power behind it while going to the ground, Rodman just runs onto the slow rolling ball and beats Sheridan 1 v 1 to the middle of the net on a low driven shot. Sheridan is down after the goal and is being evaluated by the medical team, the trainers are stretching her legs out and she appears able to continue for at least now. Sanchez just misses making it 2 - 0 by inches when she goes for the upper 90 on the 1st post in the 60', making Sheridan test her injury by going full dive for the upper 90. The Spirit is really starting to pour it on and bringing the game to the Wave even harder now, the Spirit is looking for that final blow to put the match out of reach as they enter the 63' and Rodman nearly gets another 1 v 1 with Sheridan. An amazing goal by Sanche in the 71' burying the pass from Rodman who weighted the pass to the top of the 18-yard box and Sanchez drills it inside the upper 90 of the 2nd post. The Spirit went up 2 - 0 on that goal and continued to be dangerous all over the pitch, giving the Wave fits. Ali thought she made it a 2 - 1 game but she was offside and never was able to get back onside before making contact with the ball in the 74'. The teams get a hydration break in the 76' and the teams return to action in the 78'. Unfortunately for the Wave a minute later they would see Paige Metayer find the back of the net off a Sam Stabb cross from the corner kick. Paige headed the ball past Sheridan going middle of the net with brutal force. The Wave now trails 3 - 0 in the match and has no hopes of getting back into this match. Sheridan failed to punch the ball or even get close to it. Paige gets her 1st career goal in the NWSL, and it was a beauty of a goal. The Wave brought on their 15-year-old player Melanie Barcenas in the 84'. Rodman nearly made it 4 - 0 in the 85' and then Hatch came close in the 86'. Chole Ricketts entered the match in the 86'. We now got to witness the two young 15-year-old players on the same pitch. Alex Morgan would get a meaningless tap-in goal, in the 90' to make it 3 - 1. The goal ended the clean sheet for Kingsbury and also ended the streak of the Spirit of not allowing a goal at home this season. Kingsbury definitely will want that rebound back, she had a chance to just catch it and after looking back at it in film study, she will wish she did. The fourth official showed a minimum of 5' to be added to the second half. The match ended in the 90'+6', with a 3 - 1 final and a big Spirit win at home.
Photo Credit: Washington Spirit