During the Dash’s 3-2 victory over the Washington Spirit on May 27, the team lost a key player for the rest of the 2018 NWSL season.

Midfielder Kristie Mewis suffered an ACL tear in the first half of the game, the team’s biggest loss this season, according to forward Rachel Daly.

“It is obviously so difficult because I think she has been our best player this year,” Daly said.

Mewis had started every game for the Dash this season and had scored two goals in the three games prior to her injury. It is difficult to lose one of the best players, but the Dash will deal with it and move forward, according to head coach Vera Pauw. “We need to find a new balance and bring in new players,” she said. “It is the tough life of professional sports, at this level.”

For midfielder Haley Hanson, who went in for Mewis after she went down, entering the game was something of an emotional roller coaster.

“Initially we saw that Kristie got to go back in, she looked fine, so I was very happy,” Hanson said. But although Mewis continued to play for another seven minutes, her knee gave way and forced her to be subbed off, which was when Hanson took her place in the midfield.

“Just going in, I tried to model her in what she does,” she said, “fighting defensively and making an impact offensively.”

Following the game, Pauw spoke to the team, reminding them that in addition to supporting Mewis emotionally, the best way to show their support is to raise their level of play on the field to match hers.

“She just said that the club, the team, the staff — we are all behind her, we are all supporting her and we are going to do all we can,” Hanson said. “Not only to fill in for her the rest of the season and fight for her on the field, but also support her off the field and support her in her comeback, which we know will be epic.”

For the first-year head coach, while the loss of a starting midfielder is never a good thing, it has illustrated the bond that is being developed within her team as well.

“They feel for her, and we feel her pain,” Pauw said. “I think the team is very close and has been for a while and this emphasizes how we feel about each other. That is a great feeling, but we will miss her — we will miss her every minute.”

Mewis’ impact on the field was important to the team, but her impact off of it has also been key and having her support from the bench will be a big thing to the Dash moving forward.

“She is probably the most positive person I know,” Daly said, adding that even after Mewis learned she tore her ACL, she was happier with the fact the Dash got the win.

The team sees Mewis as a shining light, so just having her around will be extra motivation for the team, according to Daly. “Now we kind of look at it as we do it for her…We just have to come together and succeed this year for her.”