Spirit push past the Dash in 1-0 victory
Updated: Aug 3, 2020
A 1-0 Spirit victory over the Houston Dash has propelled them into second place in the 2020 NWSL standings. Cohesive play beginning in the opening minutes from the Spirit led to an early goal from Feist, midfielder for the Spirit. The squad has been scoring consistently, and setting the tempo early on.
The Houston Dash, the Spirit’s opposition, had only 3 days of rest following their 2-0 defeat against Sky Blue FC. Meanwhile, the Spirit had almost a full week to recover and prepare for this match. However, the Spirit were missing one of the most important pieces of their puzzle, Lavelle due to an ankle injury. In the absence of Lavelle, players like Feist, Yokoyama, and Bailey stepped up and sparked creativity during the game, much to the chagrin of the outstretched Dash. The Spirit's backline was successful early on, building out of the back and utilizing every line to create rhythm in the attack. Nearly every play ran through Bailey and Sullivan of the Spirit as they charged down the lines, continuing to distribute and set the tempo. Attacking movements continued from the back as Huster dribbled down the pitch while Staab and Nielsen delivered threatening services and switches. In the waning minutes of the first half, the Dash began to press forward with a few shots on goal, but they were no match for the Spirit. The Spirit ended the first half with 69% of possession and a 1-0 advantage going into the next 45 minutes.
As the second half began, Jaye Boissiere came on for Tegan McGrady who put in a solid shift. In the opening minutes of the second half, captain and stalwart Andi Sullivan was taken off of the field with a leg injury and was replaced by Dougherty Howard. Unfortunately, Sullivan suffered a torn meniscus and will miss the remainder of the tournament.
Nearing the 70th minute, the Dash began to press forward with a solid shot on goal which was headed away by Nielsen who has proven herself as indispensable during this tournament. The Spirit continued to maintain possession percentages in the high 60’s, but were unable to translate their possession into attacking minded movements, which could be partly attributed to the absence of Lavelle. The team continued to make substitutions to infuse energy into the game while maintaining high passing accuracy as well.
As the game progressed, the Dash continued to find their footing, and made the most of the Spirit’s sloppy mistakes defensively, but were unable to capitalize offensively. The Dash pressed on off of set pieces with unrelenting pressure, but clearances from the Spirit denied them goals. Heading into the end of the preliminary round with four points and in second place, the Spirit look to continue their offensive prowess and maintain composure in the waning moments of each game.
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