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Red Stars fall to Spirit in stoppage time in NWSL Fall Series opener

Sarah Luebbert gave the Red Stars the lead in the 26th minute with her first NWSL goal. But Jessie Scarpa scored her first pro goal to give the Washington Spirit a 2-1 victory.

The Red Stars celebrate Sarah Luebbert’s goal against the Washington Spirit on Saturday.
Brad Smith/

LEESBURG, Va. — Jessie Scarpa scored her first pro goal in stoppage time to give the Washington Spirit a 2-1 victory over the Red Stars in a National Women’s Soccer League Fall Series game Saturday.

Sarah Luebbert took a cross from Kealia Watt and put it in the bottom right corner to put the Red Stars ahead in the 26th minute. It was Luebbert’s first NWSL goal.

Luebbert picked up where she left off during her collegiate days. The former Missouri Tiger scored 29 career goals, making her one of nine players to score at least 21 goals in their career at the program.

Bayley Feist pulled the Spirit even with a goal from near the penalty spot in the 71st minute before Scarpa’s goal three minutes into stoppage time.

The Red Stars played with 10 players after Savannah McCaskill was shown a red card after a second yellow in the 41st minute and was sent off.

Zoe Morse and Zoey Goralski led the way defensively for the Red Stars, preventing the Spirit from scoring for most of the match. Goralski led all players in tackles with six. She also had a clearance and an interception. Morse had the second-highest amount of clearances in the game with seven while leading the game in interceptions (five) and winning all four of her duels.

With their second-half substitutions, Red Stars Aerial Chavarin, Dani Rhodes and Camryn Biegalski earned their first professional minutes. Chavarin (35th overall) and Biegalski (16th overall) were selected during the 2020 NWSL College Draft. Rhodes signed a short-term deal with the Red Stars before the Fall Series.

The Spirit opened the series with a 2-1 loss to Sky Blue.

The Red Stars were playing their first Fall Series match. They played in the title game of the recent Challenge Cup tournament in Utah but fell 2-0 to the Houston Dash.

The Red Stars were playing without Yuki Nagasato, who was loaned this week to an amateur men’s team in Japan, and U.S. national team defender Julie Ertz, who opted out of the tournament.

The Red Stars return home to Seatgeek Stadium for the first time in 2020 when they face Sky Blue FC at 1 p.m. next Sunday.