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Spirit tie Sky Blue as Krieger, Harris head to Sweden

Ali Krieger (and Ashlyn Harris) left for Sweden on Monday. (Photo Copyright Amanda McCormick | www.amandamccormick8.com)

In front of a crowd 4,241, the Washington Spirit nearly gave their home fans a third straight victory to end a rough first season. Sky Blue FC’s Taylor Lytle scored in the 83rd min to dash Washington’s hopes and the game ended in a 1-1 draw.

Washington’s Stephanie Ochs notched the game’s first goal in the 40th minute. She scored off a left footed shot in the 40th minute for the Spirit. Luptia Worbis was credited with the assist.

Ochs had put in a lot of extra time this week working on her shooting, which paid big dividends.

“It’s frustrating that it’s at the end of the season but I mean it felt great. It always feels great to score,” Ochs said after the game.

The Spirit’s attack had been thwarted by a well organized Sky Blue FC defense. On no less than seven occasions in the first half, the Spirit saw the offside flag go up. Washington kept up the pressure however and eventually were able to convert.

Sky Blue did total more shots that Washington a number of Sky Blue shots were well off target and no threat to Ashlyn Harris. In fact, despite Sky Blue’s end in shots, Washington controlled the run of play throughout much of the first two-thirds of the match. The Spirit paid for their inability to clear the ball past midfield in the last fifteen minutes when Lytle converted a close range shot to tie the game.

Sky Blue score came just minutes latter Maddie Thompson and Melanie Booth came on for Danesha Adams and Nayeli Rangel. Defender Coco Goodson was moved to forward to try to push for the equalizer.

In the end, last night’s game ended up having no real playoff implications but for an already battered Sky Blue the first half substitution of Sophie Schmidt is troubling. Schmidt left the field in the 38th minute in favor of Rangel.

Sky Blue FC head coach Jim Gabarra commented on his team’s injury woes postgame.

“We certainly had some chances (tonight) but we were dead men walking is what we were. It’s tough to find some energy and even the players that are out there playing 90 minutes are dinged up and banged up and kind of out of gas.”

This is grave concern for Sky Blue, once the first place team in the league, now the No. 4 seed who will now travel Western New York to play a team that appearing to peaking at most opportune time.

For Washington, despite being eliminated from the playoff long ago, the view of the game is different.

“It’s unfortunate that we let that goal in but you know just to end the season on a highnote, that was important for us and now we have a little bit of momentum going into next season, so its going to be exciting.” Ali Krieger said.

The Spirit’s momentum will die quickly if Krieger and Harris fail to return to the Spirit next season. Krieger and Harris, who are off to Tyresö FF on Monday, were asked if they saw themselves returning to the Spirit next year.

“Of course, I mean this is my home now, “ Harris said. She later added, “The support around this team with such a bad season is pretty impressive, that they continue to come up and they continue chant and spend money and support us.”

For Krieger, a decision on the future seems like it will require more time.

“Yes,  you know obviously I can’t promise anything but I’m going over to Sweden just for three months to play in that league, play in the Champions League and get some good games in and come back for national team camp and then reevaluate what my plans are from there,” she said. “But obviously this is definitely a priority for me, that’s no question. If (there’s) any team in NWSL I would play with (it) would be D.C.”

Fans of the Spirit will have to wait awhile if the team can hold their momentum and their U.S. stars. Meanwhile, Sky Blue will face Western New York Flash in Rochester next Saturday.

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