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Spirit desperately seeking a victory

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Published on: Thursday, July 18, 2013

By Holden Wilen

GERMANTOWN – New head coach coach Mark Parsons is still waiting for his first win on the job after the Washington Spirit women’s soccer team lost 2-0 to the Chicago Red Stars on July 10 at the Maryland SoccerPlex.

For the last-place Spirit (1-10-4) the loss is the team’s second consecutive, while the Red Stars (5-6-4) picked up their second straight win.

The Spirit seemed to have luck its side in the first half. In the eighth minute the referee called defender Candance Chapman for a handball inside the penalty box, resulting in a penalty kick for the Red Stars. Forward Inka Grings attempted the ensuing kick, but goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris made the diving stop to her left to keep the match knotted at 0-0.

“(The save) was huge,” Parson said. “(Harris) is a world class keeper and she is showing week in and week out why she is one of the best in the league. We are extremely lucky to have her.”

Momentum temporarily shifted to the Spirit after Harris’ save as the Spirit had chances to score but squandered opportunities with failed passes and indecision in the offensive third of the pitch. The half ended with the score tied at 0-0 and Red Stars outshooting the Spirit 6-3.

In the second half the Spirit actually matched shots with the Red Stars, 6-6, but the Red Stars capitalized on their opportunities by scoring two goals in a 10 minute stretch to earn the victory.

The first goal came in the 63rd minute when Red Stars forward Adriana Leon took her defender one-on-one. After a series of crossovers, Leon fired the ball into the back of the net to give her team a 1-0 lead. The goal was Leon’s second of the season, but first with the Red Stars after the team acquired her in a trade with the Boston Breakers on June 30.

Leon, who led the team with three shots, including two shots on goal, starred again in the 71st minute when she attempted a bicycle kick off of a cross. The ball ended up at the foot of forward Ella Masar who knocked the ball past Ashlyn Harris to give the Red Star’s a 2-0 lead. Harris, who recorded four saves in the match, said the goal came as the result of a mental mistake by the defenders.

“I was telling my team to step up and it is their choice what they decide to do,” Harris said. “There is a player sitting on the six next to Toni (Pressley) and just got it before her and had the entire goal open. We are clearly a little tired.”

Parsons said he thought the Red Stars played better in the first half than they did in the second half, and the Spirit just ran out of luck.

“We got forward more and committed more and they got us on the break and nicked a couple goals off us that they probably deserved for their first half performance,” Parsons said. “I think we rode our luck in the first half and went after it in the second half and paid for it a little bit.”

The Spirit traveled to Seattle for a match with Seattle Reign FC the following Sunday, but lost 2-1. The Spirit play their next match on Sunday in a rematch against the Red Stars in Chicago before coming back home to face the Boston Breakers on July 27.

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