The D.C. United Women remained undefeated in 2012 W-League play Saturday with a 1-1 tie against visiting Virginia Beach at the Maryland Soccerplex in Boyds.
The tie, however, was the current Atlantic Division leader’s first league non-win.
The United Women (7-0-1) had won 11 straight regular season games dating back to 2011. Virginia Beach (4-2-3) is second in the division. After losses in their first two contests of the season, including a 2-0 defeat to D.C., the Piranhas haven’t lost since May 20.
“They’re a very physical team,” United Women coach Mike Jorden said. “They’re athletic and they put a lot of pressure on us. We did not play a terrible game but we could have done a lot better, I think we were a little impatient in the final third.”
Saturday’s offensive struggles were bound to happen eventually, according to the law of averages.
Scoring has not been an issue this season. D.C. had outscored its opponents 23-5 heading into Saturday’s match, including 10-1 in its previous two games.
But things weren’t clicking Saturday, Jorden said.
“We just weren’t sharp enough in certain places. I think it was a combination of [Virginia Beach] defending well and us not being sharp enough right around the box,” he said.
Nevertheless the United Women are poised to not only make their first postseason appearance but the right to host the Eastern Conference playoffs.
The W-League consists of 30 teams in three conferences and five divisions.
The Atlantic Division is one of three in the Eastern Conference. If the United Women finish with the best overall record across those three divisions, they will host the conference championships.
The United Women (22 points) are currently in third place in that race behind the Charlotte Lady Eagles and the Atlanta Silverbacks, who both have 23 points.
Virginia Beach coach Wendy Waddell said the Piranhas were eager to prove they are worthy of their ranking in the division.
They did just that by taking a quick 1-0 lead in the sixth minute off midfielder Jamie Clarke’s goal.
The Piranhas are still in the playoff hunt.
“To get that early goal was the best thing,” Waddell said. “There’s always a chance [for us to get to postseason]. I’ve been in this league long enough to know that you never know what is going to happen and who is going to win on a given day.”
Seventeen-year-old Ashley Herndon pulled the United Women even in the 20th minute on a shot to the far post.
Herndon has now scored points in four straight games. Mikaela Howell, who recorded the assist, her league-best seventh, has scored in eight consecutive contests.
Saturday also marked the United Women debut of Olympian Becky Sauerbrunn, a former Washington Freedom fan favorite.
“[Sauerbrunn] definitely makes us better. She is a Women’s National Team player, we’ll take her whenever we can get her,” Jorden said. “[After Saturday] we just have to hold our heads up. We have another game Tuesday. And as we found out last year, people think you can go in and win every game but that is not the case in this league.”