Jul 15, 2013

Impact close out W-League season with a draw

Fredericksburg closes season with tie against playoff-bound Washington

By Tom Leiss
For Fredericksburg Impact: www.fasaimpact.com

Impact vs Spirit W-League (photo credit: Tom Leiss)

BOYDS, Md.—The Fredericksburg Impact closed out its third W-League season with a gutsy 1-1 tie against the Washington Spirit Reserves at the Maryland SportsPlex on Wednesday evening.

Things got off to a slow start for the Impact and Washington was able to take an early lead in the ninth minute. After working the ball into the left corner, Hayley Siegel sent a cross to the right to Ashley Herndon. The forward settled the ball and tucked a shot into the left side of the net for a 1-0 Spirit lead.

After the score, Washington continued to control the play and create chances, but Fredericksburg’s defense and goalie Jesse McGinley—who made a key save on a 24th minute free kick—were able to keep its hosts from doubling their lead.

As the half wore on, the Impact coaching staff began making adjustments that started to help them get more into the game.

“Washington, credit to them. They’ve got some really athletic kids, but we’ve got some really good soccer players and athletic kids ourselves and we just had to make the adjustments,” Fredericksburg coach Rich Stoneman said. “We couldn’t allow them to continue dictating our play. When we took that back from them and started to play our game, things started to go our way.”

Impact vs Spirit W-League (photo credit: Tom Leiss)
The changes paid dividends in the 31st minute when Caty Butler played a pass to Kara Blosser. The midfielder got by one defender and then launched a 30-plus yard rocket that beat Spirit goalie DiDi Haracic to level the match, 1-1.

It was just what the Impact needed as they began to settle into the game.

“We were definitely on our heels from the start of the game,” co-captain Kimmy Cummings said. “There was some kind of momentum shift that had to happen and that was it. They definitely had the ball a lot and we were defending a lot, but some soccer games go that way and it’s just how you react to it. And I think we reacted very well.”

Fredericksburg absorbed Washington’s pressing attack for the rest of the half, but the Impact were able to hold them to keep the game tied at the break.

The intermission came right when the Impact needed it and allowed the visitors the chance to emphasis the adjustments that were made.

“Just being able to get together as a team with time to talk without the game going on really helped us figure out they had an extra person open in the middle and we weren’t picking her up and that’s what the pitfall was,” Cummings said. “We definitely picked it up in the second half, and it was us just mentally checking back into the game.”

Although Fredericksburg was more into the game after the break Washington’s offense was still pressing matters and creating opportunities, but McGinley and an inspired team defensive effort were up to the task.

The goalie’s first big play came in the 53rd minute when McGinley made a point-blank stop of an open header by Washington’s Kelsey Pardue off a corner kick.

McGinley came up with two more big saves in the 71st and 74th minutes that kept the game tied with help from defenders Georgia Brown and Cummings, who each cleared away dangerous rebounds on the plays.

McGinley, who finished the game with 14 saves, knew she had to be on top of her game Wednesday, but was also full of praise for the defense in front of her … and behind her.

“I just knew the ball couldn’t go in the net,” she said. “I knew we couldn’t lose, that I couldn’t let anyone down, no little breakdowns or anything like that.

“They had my back 100 percent,” she added about the help from her teammates. “I can’t credit all those saves to myself, they were there and if they weren’t there then they would of scored. I give them all the credit for that.”

McGinley wasn’t done standing on her head and came up with back-to-back top-notch saves in the 86th minute, diving to deflect Tiffany Brown’s shot from the right up off the crossbar before ranging to the other side of the goal to do the same to Amber Stobbs’ follow-up shot to keep the Spirit from taking a late lead.

McGinley and Cummings teamed one more time in second-half stoppage time, denying Brittany Basinger to preserve the point.

“Jess McGinley saved us again on a couple ones I thought for sure were going in and she came out of nowhere and saved them,” said Butler, who started the game at forward but move to the midfield at times to provide a boost when needed.

“I was thinking that we had a guardian angel sitting in our net to be honest,” Cummings added. “To have Jess make two incredible saves, that’s the kind of momentum you need to get you to the end of the game sometimes and that’s what it took for us.”