BOYDS, Md. — It took a late goal by midfielder Olivia Wagner to lift the Washington Spirit over Penn State 1-0 in Sunday’s preseason game at the Maryland SoccerPlex. Wagner’s strike was the result of a scrum in front of the goal following a Spirit corner kick. The ball bounced around a bit before Wagner found the back of the net.
“I think we hit every inch of those posts before we got a goal, but we kept plugging away,” Wagner said. “I’m just glad we were able to get one in the end .”
Before Wagner’s 87th minute goal, the Spirit dominated possession and held a sizable advantage in shots. While Washington’s young front line created several dangerous chances, the Spirit offense seemed content to pass the ball in the final third rather than shoot. This mentality somewhat neutralized the Spirit’s advantage in possession.
However, credit for Washington’s lack of finishing must also be given to Penn State’s defense and goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom. The Nittany Lion defenders made it hard for the Spirit get off a shot and Eckerstrom finished 12 saves on the afternoon.
Washington Spirit Keeper Chantel Jones did well to keep the score even on number of occasions as Penn State forward Maya Hayes challenged the Spirit’s back line. Twice in second half, Hayes broke away from the Spirit defense and both times Jones managed to keep the ball out of the net.
The Spirit’s back line suffered from miscues that led to a few of the Nittany Lion’s chances. Jones chalked the miscommunication up to “growing pains.”
The Spirit defensive unit may face a lot more growing pains as coach Mike Jorden moves players from other position to defense for depth purposes. Danielle Hubka, a midfielder out of Maryland, played outside back and center back for the Spirit today. Jorden has four more exhibition matches to help sort out the roster.
Washington will be back in action Sunday against Duke. Free tickets for next Sunday’s match are available through the Washington Spirit’s website.
• 2012 NCAA Division III Player of the Year Alex Brandt is a trialist with the Spirit. Brandt played for the WPSL Elite ASA Chesapeake Charge last year.
• Former D.C. United Women players Diana Weigel and Hayley Siegel are also on trial with the Spirit.
• Washington’s allocated players will begin practice with the team this week.
• Midfielder Tori Huster was unable to play Sunday due to a concussion.
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