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Spirit’s first win dampened by severe weather

Mark Parsons' first win as Spirit head coach came in a game shortened by lightning. (Photo Copyright Amanda McCormick |

BOYDS, Md. — The Washington Spirit secured their first home victory Wednesday night after a weather-shortened game against the Chicago Red Stars. Mexican international Lupita Worbis scored the only goal of the night in the 58th minute of game twice delayed by severe weather.

Worbis’ goal came off a give-and-go from midfielder Diana Matheson. Matheson’s pass set Worbis up beautifully in front of goal and Worbis then put the ball between the legs of Red Stars keeper Erin McLeod for the score.

Aside from Worbis’ game-winner, both sides had other opportunities to score.  In the 50th minute, Chicago’s Adriana Leon was left wide open on the left side of the field. Spirit keeper Chantel Jones was forced to come out and smother the ball before Leon could shot.

Chicago also had a promising opportunity after the first weather delay. In the 79th minute, Jen Hoy  beat Kika Toulouse down the left flank. Hoy’s ensuing cross found Maribel Dominguez but her shot was well off target.

Washington meanwhile nearly got on the board in 20th minute. Matheson was taken down in the box and ball trickled away from her, the Chicago defender and the keeper.  Luckily for Chicago, Sonja Fuss made a save on the line to keep the game scoreless.

Unfortunately for Worbis, her game-winning goal is not the biggest story to come out of last night’s match. After two weather delays totaling approximately 157 minutes, the game had to be called due to a midnight curfew at the Maryland SoccerPlex. It is the first time in the NWSL’s short history that a game was called for weather.

The first weather delay started at 9:03 p.m. in the 77th minute of play. The first delay lasted 104 minutes and play resumed at 10:47 p.m. The return to action would be short-lived as the lightning alert system went off just over 3 minutes later. Play never resumed as lightning in the area kept the system from giving the all clear.

Having the game shortened due to lightning was disappointing for both clubs. Chicago was eliminated from the playoffs as they needed a win in last night’s match to keep their slim hopes alive.  The Spirit meanwhile had long envisioned celebrating their first victory with a home crowd.  Instead, the team was in the confines of the Discovery Sports Center building adjacent to the field when the game was called.  Both teams did go outside and thank a contingent of about 50 fans who stayed through the multiple weather delays.

“It is a hard way to end (our playoff chances) as we’re counting down minutes closer to midnight but it is was it is.” McLeod commented after the game. “If you ask a lot of people if we would have made it this far, they would have said no. We fought and we fought with the people that we have… I’m really proud to be a Red Star right now.”

Spirit head coach Mark Parsons admitted that he felt that the weather delay robbed them a bit of the emotion that accompanies winning.

“We actually talked about it at the beginning of the game,  I said to the players, what are you going to do when we win and that whistle blows and I mean it think about it. Who are you going to hug?  Who you going to scream? Who you going to call when you get off the pitch?”

The Spirit will have to win again in one of the final two matches to answer these questions. This Saturday the Spirit will face off against the visiting Seattle Reign at 7 p.m. ET. The match will be broadcast on Fox Soccer.

“They snuck one from us the last time we played them at their field on TV,“ Jones on the upcoming match. “We can have a little bit of revenge.”

Meanwhile, Chicago will face Sky Blue FC for their final home game of the season Saturday at 6 p.m. ET


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