Thursday, December 12, 2013 10:04 AM
Published on: Thursday, August 22, 2013
By Holden Wilen
GERMANTOWN – The Washington Spirit finished its first season in the National Women’s Soccer League unbeaten in its final three matches after playing to a 1-1 draw with Sky Blue FC at the Maryland SoccerPlex.
The last-place Spirit (3-14-5) struggled most of the season but ended the season with momentum after going 2-0-1 in the last three matches of the season.
“I’m exhausted. I poured my entire life into this team the last few months. It has been tough, but I would not change this experience for the world,” said Spirit goalkeeper Ashlynn Harris, who recorded three saves in the match. “I have had such an incredible journey, and it is about the people you meet and the things you come across. That is what you hold onto for the rest of your life. It is not about the winning, it is about the relationships you made. It has been a true blessing for me, and I am very grateful.”
Sky Blue FC (10-6-6) outshot the Spirit 13-7 in the match, including 7-3 in the first half, but the Spirit scored the first goal. Forward Stephanie Ochs scored her long-awaited first goal of the season in the 40th minute off a pass from Lupita Worbis. The Spirit lost the lead when Sky Blue got a goal from Taylor Lytle in the 83rd minute after a corner kick.
The season has been a test of character for the Spirit players, Harris said, because no one likes losing. Through it all, the team remained united, and Harris said the losing helped her learn patience. Defender Ali Krieger said the positive stretch to end the season provides a boost for the beginning of next season, which she is already looking forward to.
“We will just take a few months off and then reorganize and get back together in January and February,” Krieger said. “We learned this season, we persevered and now I think we are more positive heading into next year.”
Now that the season is over, there are questions about which players will be on the team next season and who will not be back. Krieger said she plans to return but will be playing in Sweden during the offseason and then play with the U.S. Women’s National Team. Harris, who finished third in the league with 85 saves, also said she plans to return next season.
“This is my home now,” she said. “The Spirit is where my loyalty is, and it has always been that way.”