Arielle ShipAubrey BledsoeFrancisca OrdegaGame Day Coverage

The Washington Spirit hosted Sky Blue in the season finale this weekend. The game was originally scheduled for Saturday evening, but after hours of a lightning delay, the game was eventually postponed until the next morning. On Sunday morning, the two teams would score late in the second half to finish with a 1-1 draw.

Starting XI: Bledsoe; Dydasco, Church, Clark, Crosson; Lohman, Dougherty Howard; McCarty, Solaun, Farquharson; Ordega Kelley Piper | Follow Your Spirit

Arielle Ship returns with first goal of 2018

After picking up her first minutes of the season last weekend at Audi Field, Arielle Ship made her second appearance on Sunday. Ship came in for Cali Farquharson in the 58th minute. Ship made an immediate impact as she brought pace to the game and was working well up front with Francisca Ordega.
That partnership paid off in the 71st minute.

It had been 765 minutes since Washington last put the ball into the back of the net on July 7th against Orlando. Ship broke that streak with her first goal of the season. The original shot was taken by Ordega which Sky Blue goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan was able to stop. The rebound fell to Ship, whos first shot was also stopped by Sheridan. Ship then collected her own rebound and put it home for her first goal of the year.

Arielle Ship celebrates her first goal of the season. Kelley Piper | Follow Your Spirit

Aubrey Bledsoe sets saves record

All season, Spirit goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe has had the difficult task of stopping a lot of shots. On Sunday morning, the story was no different. Bledsoe was forced to make five saves on six shots. She also was forced to stand in for a penalty attempt, but She Groom’s shot hit the crossbar. It was the fourth save of the morning that was the biggest one for Bledsoe. That save racked up her season total to 108 which pushed her past Chicago’s Alyssa Naeher for the most in NWSL history in a single season.

Aubrey Bledsoe dives while facing Shea Groom’s penalty kick. Groom’s kick would go off the crossbar. Kelley Piper | Follow Your Spirit

Spirit start three National Team Replacement players in final game

With the Spirit having eight players gone with their national teams for the FIFA Break, Washington signed five players to National Team Replacement contracts. Zoe Clark, Megan Crosson, Tiffany McCarty and Alexa Newfield, and goalkeeper Morgan Ruhl all were in the lineup on Sunday. Clark, Crosson, and McCarty were featured in the starting XI while Newfield came on as a sub in the second half.

Arielle ShipAshley HatchCali FarquharsonCheyna WilliamsFrancisca OrdegaMallory PughPosition Previews

With the 2018 season beginning on Saturday, Follow Your Spirit brings you a break down of each position group on the Washington Spirit. Finally, the forwards.

The Group

#17 – Cali Farquharson

  • Age: 24
  • Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona

#33 – Ashley Hatch

  • Age: 22
  • Hometown: Gilbert, Arizona

#14 – Francisca Ordega

  • Age: 24
  • Hometown: Gboko, Nigeria

#11 – Mallory Pugh

  • Age: 19
  • Hometown: Highlands Ranch, Colorado

#2 – Arielle Ship

  • Age: 22
  • Hometown: Westlake Village, California

#88 – Tiffany Weimer

  • Age: 33
  • Hometown: Bridgeport, Connecticut


This will be a very interesting year for the Washington Spirit forward corps. After a down year offensively, the Spirit will need more production out of the forwards for the playoffs to be an option. Much like the midfielders, the personnel on the field will greatly depend on what formation is being played.

It is believed that Washington will begin the season playing in a 4-3-3. With that being said, it is most likely going to be Ashley Hatch, midfielder/forward Estefania Banini, and Mallory Pugh on the front line. Hatch gives the Spirit some height up front while Banini and Pugh bring the distribution and goal scoring abilities to the table. Much like in the preseason finale, Francisca Ordega will most likely be the go-to forward coming off the bench for head coach Jim Gabarra.

This lineup will also depend on national team camps. US head coach Jill Ellis has called up Hatch and Pugh for two April friendlies against Mexico. Arielle Ship will start the season on the 45-day disabled list and Cheyna Williams will take the year off because of maternity leave.

Player to Watch

In mid-January, the Spirit acquired Hatch from North Carolina. During the offseason, Hatch spent time with Melbourne City FC of the Australian W-League. Her team ended up winning the W-League title before she returned to the U.S. for preseason with Washington.

“My time in Australia was great,” Hatch said. “It was good to get more games in, more minutes and more touches on the ball just to stay fit and get more game experience. It was good to just progressing and hopefully, that will roll over into the season.”

In 2017, Hatch won the NWSL Rookie of the Year crown. She won the award after tying a league record for most goals by a rookie (7),

“Last year was a great season, I learned a lot but I still feel like there’s a lot more to learn and to improve as a player,” Hatch said. “It’s only my second year as a professional so I’m excited to come here, play with the Spirit, and hopefully help them improve from last season.

Next Up

Washington will open up against the Seattle Reign on Saturday, March 24. will have a stream of the game with kickoff coming at 10 p.m. ET.

Alyssa KleinerAndi SullivanArielle ShipAshley HatchAubrey BledsoeBriana ScurryCheyna WilliamsDiDi HaracicEstelle JohnsonHavana SolaunJim GabarraJoanna LohmanJordan SmallKelsey WysMallory PughPodcastPreaseasonRebecca QuinnRose LavelleSchuyler DeBreeShelina ZadorskySpirit SquadronStephanie LabbeTaylor SmithTori HusterWhitney Church

Joanna Lohman smiles at ref

Jordan Small and Timothy Lawson connect after four weeks since the last podcast. The two hosts cover every bit of news that has released in February, plus a couple announcements for Follow Your Spirit. Enjoy!

Jordan: @Jols98

Tim: @TimLawson21

Follow Your Spirit: @SpiritCoverage

Arielle ShipGame Day CoverageJim GabarraKristie MewisLine Sigvardsen JensenMallory PughMeggie Dougherty HowardStephanie Labbe

On Saturday evening, the Maryland SoccerPlex was buzzing, not because of the game between FC Kansas City and the Washington Spirit that was set to take place, but because of who was set to make her debut. Mallory Pugh earned her first professional minutes in a 1-0 loss for the Spirit.

Starting XI: Labbé; Johnson, Church, Zadorsky, Kleiner; Dougherty Howard, Sigvardsen, Mewis; Williams, Ordega, Ship Kelley Piper | Follow Your Spirit

In the 54th minute, Pugh entered the match for Arielle Ship. When Pugh stepped on the field, she became the youngest American-born player to appear in the NWSL at just 19-years-old. With US Women’s National Team head coach Jill Ellis in attendance for the match, Pugh played primarily as a left forward, a position she has become familiar with on the national team.

“I think that’s where she’s most comfortable and that’s where she best fits our style of play and our system,” Spirit head coach Jim Gabarra said when talking to the media after the game. “It’s probably the easiest transition for her, rather than playing in the midfield where there’s tactically some different things that she’s got to get used to.”

Both teams had numerous chances to score throughout the game, but it was not until the 39th minute that either side broke through. Kansas City forward Sydney Leroux flicked on a ball to midfielder Alexa Newfield who buried the ball past goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé. The Spirit had chances of their own but failed to deposit any of their opportunities.

“The times we attacked the flanks, which was the game plan, we created scoring chances,” Gabarra said. “I think if we get a goal out of what we created in the first 20-30 minutes, I think we walk out of here with an easy three points, but that didn’t happen. That’s kind of been the theme for three of our four home games.”

Shelina Zadorsky covers FCKC forward Sydney Leroux in the second half. Kelley Piper | Follow Your Spirit

Despite the ongoing offensive struggles for the Spirit, the defense bounced back from a 6-2 defeat the week before in Seattle. This marks the third time this season that Washington has lost 1-0 at the Plex.

“Defensively we did much better limiting their chances and not really giving them any big scoring chances other than the goal obviously,” Labbé said post game. “I think with that, it’s just continuing to build on the offense. That’s where were going to win games. We need to start scoring goals. I think keep pushing towards that and building our confidence with that is where we need to go.”

The midfield saw the biggest change this week. Tori Huster was out with a quad strain and Kassey Kallman did not see action for the first time in over three years. The play of Line Sigvardsen, Meggie Dougherty Howard and Kristie Mewis did a better job of connecting between the backline and the forwards than in previous weeks.

“It was organized and I think they worked really hard, but you can’t replace Tori. I’ve said all along, when you don’t see her out there, you really have a good appreciation of how much she does,” Gabarra said. “Her mobility and winning of balls and change the point of attack was something we really missed, even though the three of them, Line and Meggie and Kristie did a very good job.”

Meggie Dougherty Howard fights for the ball against FCKC’s Becca Moros. Kelley Piper | Follow Your Spirit

The Spirit will travel to Kansas City next week for the second half of a home and away series with the Blues. Kickoff for next week’s matchup will be at 8 p.m. ET.

Arielle ShipPlayer Previews

As the 2017 NWSL season approaches, we will be rolling out profiles on the 2017 Washington Spirit roster.

Name: Arielle Ship

Hometown: Westlake Village, California

Position: Forward

College: University of California – Berkeley

Ship in a preseason match vs. the University of Virginia on April 8, 2017. Kelley Piper | Follow Your Spirit

Last season: Arielle Ship was drafted by the Seattle Reign with the 26th overall pick in the 2017 draft. Her rights were acquired by the Spirit in a trade that sent Diana Matheson to Seattle. In 2016, Ship lead Cal in goals (11), assists (6), and points (28).

2017 season: On April 5, Washington signed Ship to a professional contract. Ship came off the bench in the first two preseason matches and started the final two.  Because of limited numbers on the frontline, Ship could be thrust into the lineup early on. It will be interesting to see how the Spirit will use Ship as she adjusts to play at the professional level.