Francisca OrdegaGame Day CoverageGame Preview

The Washington Spirit will wrap up a three game road trip with a Wednesday night matchup in Cary against the number one North Carolina Courage. In two previous matchups this season, the Spirit have lost twice, 4-2 at home in April, and 1-0 on the road in May.

Kick-Off

7:00 PM ET on Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Location

Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina

Projected Starting Lineup

Aubrey Bledsoe; Taylor Smith, Whitney Church, Estelle Johnson, Caprice Dydasco; Andi Sullivan, Meggie Dougherty Howard, Rebecca Quinn; Estefania Banini, Ashley Hatch, Tori Huster

Noteworthy

The Spirit will be without the services of forward Francisca Ordega on Wednesday night. Ordega suffered a concussion in the opening minutes of Washington’s 2-1 loss against Orlando on Saturday night. Ordega was injured after Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris’ arm and shoulder area made contact with Ordega’s head. Midfielder Meggie Dougherty Howard would come in to replace the injured forward.

Injuries

OUT: Cali Farquharson (left tibial stress injury – D45), Cheyna Matthews (pregnancy), Francisca Ordega (concussion), Mallory Pugh (right PCL sprain), Arielle Ship (right ACL recovery – D45), Tiffany Weimer (left knee Baker’s cyst)

QUESTIONABLE: Estefanía Banini (right hamstring inflammation)

INTERNATIONAL DUTY: None

Key to Victory

Don’t give up free kicks. One of the things that North Carolina does better than any team in the league is score off of set pieces. Whether it is a free kick or a corner kick, the height that the Courage possess makes it very difficult to defend against. For the Spirit, free kick defending has been an issue, especially against North Carolina. The easiest way to not give up a goal to the Courage is to not put yourself in that position.

Stream

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Ashley HatchAubrey BledsoeFrancisca OrdegaGame Day CoverageJim Gabarra

The Washington Spirit traveled to Orlando to take on the Pride in the final matchup between the two sides. In the previous two matches, the teams had split with one win a piece. The start of Saturday’s game would be delayed for nearly 40 minutes due to thunderstorms in the area.

When the game did get underway, the Spirit were under pressure early from Orlando. Just a few minutes into the match, Spirit forward Francisca Ordega and Orlando keeper Ashlyn Harris collided after going for a ball. Ordega would have to leave the match due to concussion protocol. This seemed to spark the Spirit a bit as they began to turn on the offense. In the 26th minute, forward Ashley Hatch scored her team-leading fourth goal of the year.

Pride forward Sydney Leroux would tie the game up just before the half and Marta scored in the 86th minute to win it for Orlando. The Spirit have now gone seven games without a win, picking up just two points in that stretch.

Ashley Hatch Breaks Scoreless Drought

After being shut out for 476 minutes, the Spirit finally found the back of the net. In the 26th minute, Ashley Hatch headed home Whitney Church’s corner kick. It took a load off the team’s back and nothing showed that more than goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe running more than half the field to join the team in celebration.

“It’s been a bit since we scored so just excited to get that first goal and to be up here in this stadium, against this team, it was just a lot of excitement,” Bledsoe said. “I wanted to be apart of the celebration so I made a break for it.”

Despite Early Sub, Spirit Kept Pressure Up

Often times this season, Washington has had the tendency to sit back and watch. This has resulted in lazy play and poor results. While at times they did revert to that style on Saturday evening, the front line especially put pressure on Orlando’s backline.

“No, it needs to change,” Gabarra said. “I got into them a bit at halftime in Chicago and they came out and played great in the second half. It was like why do we need to go down a goal or why do we need to start poorly. We need to start that way every game. I think it’s just something we talked about over the week and they executed it.”

The pressure came from Ashley Hatch, who was forced to play a different role early with Francisca Ordega being subbed out. After Hatch scored her goal, she was like a bull in a china shop.

“For her individually, she got a lot of confidence by getting the goal and she was rewarded for all of, she does so much work off the ball,” Gabarra said. “I think it was just she looked more dangerous and more confident tonight. That’s hard to get out of an attacking player or a goal scorer when they’re not scoring goals because they naturally feel like they’re not doing their job.”

Aubrey Bledsoe Comes Up With Big Saves in Return to Orlando

During the offseason, the Washington Spirit traded defender Shelina Zadorsky to Orlando in exchange for goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe. Saturday’s match was Bledsoe’s first in Orlando since joining the Spirit. In the loss, she made ten saves.

“It meant something more just coming back here,” Bledsoe said after the match. “I love Orlando, it will always be home to me. There are still a lot of people here that I care about. I had a lot of friends and family in the stands today. Even the Pride supporters, I know they are still rooting for me and want the best for me so that just means a lot. It’s great to be back and see old friends and just be a part of everything here.

Next Up

The Spirit have a quick turnaround as they travel to North Carolina to take on the Courage on Wednesday. Kickoff for the match is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Ashley HatchEstefania BaniniFrancisca OrdegaGame Day CoverageGame Preview

The Washington Spirit return home to the Maryland SoccerPlex on Saturday night to take on the Seattle Reign. Tonight is the unofficial Pride Night, hosted by the Spirit Squadron.

Kick-Off

7:00 PM ET on Saturday, June 16, 2018

Location

Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, Maryland

Projected Starting Lineup

Aubrey Bledsoe; Taylor Smith, Rebecca Quinn, Estelle Johnson, Caprice Dydasco; Andi Sullivan, Joanna Lohman, Meggie Dougherty Howard; Francisca Ordega, Ashley Hatch, Estefania Banini

Noteworthy

Rebecca Quinn, Francisca Ordega, Yanara Aedo, and Rose Lavelle have returned from international duty and will be available for selection on Saturday evening. With those players returning, Maddie Huster and Schuyler DeBree have been released.

Injuries

OUT: Whitney Church (excused absence), Mallory Eubanks (right ankle sprain), Cali Farquharson (left tibial stress injury – D45), Cheyna Matthews (pregnancy), Mallory Pugh (right PCL sprain), Arielle Ship (right ACL recovery – D45), Havana Solaun (left knee chondral avulsion)

QUESTIONABLE: Kelsey Wys (right knee swelling)

INTERNATIONAL DUTY: None

Key to Victory

Get the Offense Involved Early. With Francisca Ordega returning, the Spirit need to get here integrated back in early. Putting pressure on Seattle’s backline before the Reign score can really change the tempo of the match. Since Mallory Pugh is out, the frontline of Ordega, Estefania Banini, and Ashley hatch will need to come together quickly to avoid being shutout once again.

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Francisca OrdegaGame Day CoverageGame PreviewMallory PughRebecca QuinnSchuyler DeBree

The Washington Spirit will return home on Saturday to take on the Chicago Red Stars in the Lifetime Game of the Week. In the first matchup between these two teams in late April, Francisca Ordega and Alyssa Mautz scored in a 1-1 draw.

Kick-Off

3:50 PM ET on Saturday, June 2, 2018

Location

Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, Maryland

Projected Starting Lineup

Aubrey Bledsoe; Taylor Smith, Whitney Church, Estelle Johnson, Caprice Dydasco; Andi Sullivan, Rebecca Quinn, Meggie Dougherty Howard; Mallory Eubanks, Ashley Hatch, Estefania Banini

Noteworthy

Rebecca Quinn and Francisca Ordega have been called up for their national teams in Canada and Nigeria respectively. Quinn will leave for camp with Canada at some point this week. Ordega has left the Spirit to travel to Nigeria for the FIFA Break. Schuyler DeBree has been signed as a National Team Replacement Player.

Injuries

OUT: Cali Farquharson (left tibial stress injury – D45), Cheyna Matthews (pregnancy), Mallory Pugh (right knee swelling), Arielle Ship (right ACL recovery – D45)

QUESTIONABLE: Tori Huster (right groin soreness)

INTERNATIONAL DUTY: Francisca Ordega (NGA)

Key to Victory

Put Pressure On Early. The Chicago Red Stars gave up five goals against Orlando last weekend. The Red Stars will be missing goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher and defender/midfielder Julie Ertz missing this week. This means the Spirit need to put the pressure on rookie goalkeeper Emily Boyd and the backline early, especially with Mallory Pugh and Francisca Ordega out for this weekend. If they can get a goal early and keep Sam Kerr quiet, a point or more just might be in their future.

Stream

Lifetime

Twitter

Follow @spiritcoverage and @jols98 for game updates and to keep your timeline to date with our Washington Spirit coverage on Twitter.

 

Andi SullivanAshley HatchEstefania BaniniEstelle JohnsonFrancisca OrdegaGame Day CoverageJim GabarraMeggie Dougherty HowardRebecca QuinnRose LavelleWhitney Church

After three weeks on the road, the Washington Spirit returned home to the Maryland SoccerPlex to take on the visiting Portland Thorns. One strike was all it took for the Thorns to take home all three points on a rainy Saturday night in Maryland.

For most of the evening, the Spirit had the better of the attack. But for the third straight game, Washington was unable to break the scoresheet and were shutout once again. In the 68th minute, Portland substitute Ellie Carpenter crashed hard to the net to finish a ball for her first ever NWSL goal, making her the youngest to ever score in the league.

Kelley Piper | Follow Your Spirit
Starting XI: Bledsoe; Smith, Church, Quinn, Dydasco; Dougherty Howard, Huster, Sullivan; Pugh, Hatch, Banini.

Whitney Church Shines at Center Back

In her three seasons for the Spirit, Whitney Church has struggled with the fast paced NWSL game. On Saturday night however, Church had one of her best games for the Spirit, anchoring the backline with Estelle Johnson out once again. While Church is not known for her speed, her positional awareness, ability to out jump players much taller than her, and her well weighted long balls have made her a key piece of this year’s backline.

“I saw what I expect to see from her. I’ve seen that in her for the last two to three years,” Gabarra said after the game. “She’s a tremendous defender and she always seems to be in the right place and that’s my expectation of her is to play games like that. I’m just glad she’s comfortable enough and secure enough now to be able to show everyone else.”

With Johnson out, the captain’s armband has been worn by Church. More of a quieter player in her first season, Church has stepped up and become a leader on the team. Alongside Johnson and Tori Huster, head coach Jim Gabarra considers Church to be one of the veteran leaders on the Spirit.

Kelley Piper | Follow Your Spirit
Whitney Church was presented the Spirit Squadron’s player of the match trophy following the game.

The Offense Goes Quiet Once Again

It has been over 350 minutes since the Spirit last scored a goal. On April 28, Francisca Ordega scored against the Chicago Red Stars in the 4th minute. Since then, the Spirit have played three full games without putting a goal up on the scoresheet. While the goalkeeping from the opposition has been good, the Spirit are just not getting it done. Washington ended up with four shots on goal, but most were right at Thorns goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom.

On Saturday night, the Spirit switched up the front three to try and get a spark going offensively. Ordega was sent to the bench and Estefania Banini moved up to the front line from the midfield. Alongside Banini were Mallory Pugh and Ashley Hatch. Ordega would eventually come in off the bench for Hatch, but was unable to deliver.

The Spirit will now welcome a winless Sky Blue team to the Plex on Wednesday night. Sky Blue has allowed 12 goals in just six games played this season. If the Spirit are going to break this goalless drought, it needs to come Wednesday night.

“I think we are getting the opportunities, we just need to put them away,” midfielder Andi Sullivan said. “We have great opportunities to break through and we just have got to have that final touch. I think it takes like 10 shots to make a goal so the floodgates are going to open soon, I’m sure.”

A Possible Rose Lavelle Return

According to head coach Jim Gabarra, midfielder Rose Lavelle could be available for Wednesday’s game against Sky Blue.

“We’re hopeful that Wednesday she’s available for selection.”

Lavelle, who has been out with a hamstring injury since August 2, was acquired in the dispersal draft from the Boston Breakers. If Lavelle is available on Wednesday, expect her to play very limited minutes off the bench. This isn’t the first time this season that Lavelle has been deemed almost ready to play so it will most likely be something that isn’t actually confirmed until Wednesday.

Next Up

The Spirit will return to action on Wednesday night to take on Sky Blue at the Maryland SoccerPlex. Kickoff for the match is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET. After that, the Spirit will travel to Houston to take on the Dash on Sunday, May 27.

Aubrey BledsoeCali FarquharsonFrancisca OrdegaGame Day CoverageGame PreviewMallory Eubanks

After three weeks on the road, the Washington Spirit will return home to take on the Portland Thorns. This will be the second meeting of the season for these teams. In the first matchup in Portland, Oregon, the two teams tied 1-1 on a first half goal from either side.

Kick-Off

7:00 PM ET on Saturday, May 19, 2018

Location

Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, Maryland

Projected Starting Lineup

Aubrey Bledsoe; Taylor Smith, Whitney Church, Rebecca Quinn,  Caprice Dydasco; Andi Sullivan, Tori Huster, Estefania Banini; Mallory Pugh, Ashley Hatch, Francisca Ordega

Noteworthy

Forward Cali Farquharson has been placed on the 45-day disabled list. Farquharson played in just one game for the Spirit so far in 2018, racking up in a total of eight minutes. In a corresponding move, the Spirit have signed 2018 draft pick Mallory Eubanks to a professional contract. Eubanks has appeared in three games for the Spirit in 2018, playing 79 minutes in total. She was previously under contract as a National Team Replacement Player.

Injuries

OUT: Cali Farquharson (left tibial stress injury – D45), Rose Lavelle (left hamstring strain), Cheyna Matthews (pregnancy), Arielle Ship (right ACL recovery – D45)

QUESTIONABLE: Estelle Johnson (right hamstring strain)

INTERNATIONAL DUTY: None

Key to Victory

Score. The past two games, the Washington Spirit have been shutout. They now have scored 7 goals in seven games while allowing 11 goals. Portland has scored 11 goals in eight games played. The last time these two teams played, Francisca Ordega opened the scoring in the 37th minute, but a penalty kick goal in stoppage time of the first half tied it up for the Thorns. With Aubrey Bledsoe holding it down on the backline, one or two goals should be good enough for at least a point.

Stream

Go90.com

Twitter

Follow @spiritcoverage and @jols98 for game updates and to keep your timeline to date with our Washington Spirit coverage on Twitter.