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Matheson scores late, gives Spirit first win streak

Diana Matheson scored the game-winning goal vs. Seattle to give the Spirit their first winning streak in franchise history. (Photo Copyright Amanda McCormick | www.amandamccormick8.com)

BOYDS, Md. — Diana Matheson scored in the 83rd minute to give the Washington Spirit a 1-0 victory over Seattle Reign FC. The Washington Spirit now their first winning streak of the season after beating Chicago on Wednesday.

Spirit head coach Mark Parsons once again asked his team to visualize how they would react after winning a game at home. He asked them to do the same before Wednesday’s match against Chicago, but a series of weather delays robbed the team of the moment, despite the win. The team will have visualize no longer as they finally got to experience a win at home in front of their supporters.

Washington appeared a bit nervous in the opening minutes of the match and the visiting Seattle dominated possession in the first 15 minutes. Fortunately for the Spirit, Seattle failed to take advantage. For the rest of the first half, the teams traded chances but the half ended in a 0-0 draw.

Seattle had seven shots to Washington’s two in the first half, however, a number of Seattle’s shots were taken from outside 30 yards. The best opportunity of the half belonged to Washington as a close-range shot by Conny Pohlers found the back of the net, but she was called offsides. Seattle nearly scored on the ensuing counter. McDonald was driving but Harris smothered the ball before she could get a shot off.

Washington also recorded the first real chance of the evening in the 12th minute. Matheson found Pohlers on the left side of the field near goal. Pohlers then rocketed a shot that required a diving save from Hope Solo to keep the match level.

Early in the second half, Seattle nearly scored off a corner. The initial corner was partially cleared and then Fishlock took a curling shot that went off the post.

The game would remain scoreless until the 83rd minute when Diana Matheson scored on a breakaway. Diana placed the ball into the far post behind the reach of Hope Solo.

Two minutes, a foul gave Seattle a chance to tie. The free kick taken by Megan Rapinoe was badly placed. The Reign gathered the Spirit’s attempted clearance and the ensuing cross by Christine Nairn was punched away by Harris.

All in all, the game was sloppy at times by both teams. The Spirit, as they have done all season, had difficulty connecting passes while the Reign settled on taking low percentage, long range shots rather than try to penetrate further into the Spirit’s defensive half of the field.

Saturday’s match marked Harris’ first shutout of the season. Postgame Harris was complimentary of interim head coach Mark Parsons.

“All season we’ve been wanting a coach to come in and have structure and tell us what to do and have a game plan,” Harris said. “Mark has come in and he has given his heart to this club. We owe it to him to give him points and show our appreciation because he’s done a fantastic job with this team. I’m honored to play for him. He’s one of the best in the league in my opinion.”

Parsons’ counterpart, Laura Harvey, admitted her team didn’t play very well.

“I thought they defended well. They dropped off and we’ve found it difficult when teams do that to us. We found it difficult tonight. We weren’t at the level we needed to be at to win the game,” she said.

The Washington Spirit finish at home versus Sky Blue FC at 5 p.m. ET on Sunday, August 18th. Seattle, meanwhile, will face Portland at home on next Saturday. Both Washington and Seattle can play the role of spoiler, as Portland and Sky Blue FC are both assured a playoff spot but both are still fighting for a home playoff game.

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