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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

Game Day CoverageGame Preview

For the first time in NWSL history, a match is being played in Washington, D.C. The Washington Spirit and Portland Thorns will face off at Audi Field, the new home of D.C. United. United played their first game in the stadium back in July, and now it is time for the Spirit to get their crack at the brand new stadium.

Kick-Off

8:00 PM ET on Saturday, August 25, 2018

Location

Audi Field in Washington, D.C.

Projected Starting Lineup

Aubrey Bledsoe; Taylor Smith, Estelle Johnson, Rebecca Quinn, Caprice Dydasco; Andi Sullivan, Rose Lavelle, Meggie Dougherty Howard, Mallory Pugh; Ashley Hatch

Noteworthy

This week, Jill Ellis announced her roster for the upcoming matches against Chile. Rose Lavelle and Mallory Pugh were both among those chosen for the two friendlies. Also being called up for international friendlies were Andi Sullivan, Mallory Eubanks, and Ashley Hatch. That trio will represent the U.S. at the under 23 level in the Nordic Cup. Rebecca Quinn will also represent Canada’s national team in upcoming friendlies against Brazil. Finally, it was announced on Saturday that goalkeeper Didi Haracic was called up to the Bosnian National Team.

Injuries

OUT: Estefania Banini (right MCL sprain), Tori Huster (left ankle inflammation), Cheyna Matthews (pregnancy), Tiffany Weimer (left knee Baker’s cyst – D45), Kelsey Wys (right knee meniscus scope) QUESTIONABLE: Francisca Ordega (left foot contusion)
INTERNATIONAL DUTY: None

Key to Victory

Be smart defensively. It’s no secret that the Spirit have struggled offensively lately. But instead of beating a dead horse on that topic, it’s best if the Spirit focus on the other problematic area of their game. Against Utah on Wednesday, the Spirit once again had a strong performance from their goalkeeper, this time it being Didi Haracic, and yet still made a mess in front of her. The Spirit need to come together as a group and play strong in front of their goalkeeper to ensure that they have a chance in this game.

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Game Day CoverageGame Preview

After being off last weekend, the Washington Spirit return to action to take on the Houston Dash. It will be the last meeting between these two teams for the season. In the last meeting between these two sides, Houston took home the 1-0 victory.

Kick-Off

8:30 PM ET on Friday, August 17, 2018

Location

BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Texas

Projected Starting Lineup

Aubrey Bledsoe; Rebecca Quinn, Estelle Johnson, Whitney Church; Taylor Smith, Andi Sullivan, Mallory Pugh, Rose Lavelle, Caprice Dydasco; Ashley Hatch, Francisca Ordega

Noteworthy

The Spirit held media day at Audi Field on Wednesday. During that time, members of the media were able to see the field and facilities where the game will take place. The players were also able to get an up close look at where they will be playing in just over a week.

Injuries

OUT: Estefania Banini (right MCL sprain), Tori Huster (left heel bruise), Cheyna Matthews (pregnancy), Tiffany Weimer (left knee Baker’s cyst– D45), Kelsey Wys (right knee meniscus scope)
QUESTIONABLE: None
INTERNATIONAL DUTY: None

Key to Victory

Give Ashley Hatch support. So often this season, the ball would get up to the front where Ashley Hatch would be waiting. She would get the ball and then be forced to take on two or three defenders all on her own because there would be no one up there to support her. This has made it extremely difficult for the Spirit to score or even create dangerous opportunities. If they want to get in good positions to win, they need to score. If they want to score, getting Hatch some help up front is a necessity.

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NWSL.com

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Caprice DydascoGame Day CoverageGame PreviewTaylor Smith

The Washington Spirit will head out to Utah to take on the Royals in a midweek game. After falling to Seattle 2-0 on Sunday, the Spirit will look to pick up their first win since May 23.

Kick-Off

10:00 PM ET on Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Location

Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah

Projected Starting Lineup

Aubrey Bledsoe; Rebecca Quinn, Estelle Johnson, Tori Huster; Taylor Smith, Andi Sullivan, Mallory Pugh, Rose Lavelle, Caprice Dydasco; Ashley Hatch, Francisca Ordega

Noteworthy

On Sunday evening, the Spirit took on the Seattle Reign. While they lost 2-0, Mallory Pugh made her return to the pitch. Pugh, Lavelle, and Sullivan were the three substitutes for the Spirit and played together for one of the few times all season.

Injuries

OUT: Estefanía Banini (right MCL sprain), Cheyna Matthews (pregnancy), Tiffany Weimer (left knee Baker’s cyst – D45), Kelsey Wys (right knee meniscus scope)

QUESTIONABLE: None

INTERNATIONAL DUTY: None

Key to Victory

Get Dydasco and Smith going. With the Spirit now experimenting with a 3-5-2 formation,  Smith and Dydasco are now getting more involved in the offense. If they can combine with Pugh and Lavelle, that could be a very dangerous combination.

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NWSL.com

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Game Day CoverageGame PreviewMallory Pugh

The NWSL returns to action on Sunday night after being off for the Tournament of Nations. Washington will head out to Seattle to take on the Reign in the final game of the season between these two.

Kick-Off

9:00 PM ET on Sunday, August 5, 2018

Location

UW Medicine Pitch at Memorial Stadium in Seattle, Washington

Projected Starting Lineup

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

Noteworthy

For the first time since her injury at the end of May, Mallory Pugh has been taken off of the injury report. Pugh first was injured against the Houston Dash on Sunday, May 27 when she collided with Dash goalkeeper Jane Campbell. After the game on July 21 against Houston, head coach Jim Gabarra said there was a possibility that Pugh could see time against the Reign.

Injuries

OUT: Cheyna Matthews (pregnancy), Estefanía Banini (right MCL sprain), Tiffany Weimer (left knee Baker’s cyst – D45), Kelsey Wys (right knee meniscus scope)

QUESTIONABLE: Arielle Ship (right knee ACL recovery)

INTERNATIONAL DUTY: None

Key to Victory

Start out strong. The last time the Spirit played in Seattle, Megan Rapinoe put the Reign ahead just seven minutes into the match. Just 28 minutes later, Jodie Taylor doubled the lead with the help of Rapinoe. Joanna Lohman was able to get one back in the second half for the Spirit but it was too little too late. If the Spirit want to break their five plus year winless streak in Seattle, it has to start in the first half with a good, solid performance.

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NWSL.com

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Aubrey BledsoeCaprice DydascoGame Day CoverageRebecca QuinnTaylor SmithTori Huster

On Saturday night, the Washington Spirit and Houston Dash were set to face off at the Maryland SoccerPlex, but Mother Nature had other plans.

According to the National Weather Service, more than six inches of rain fell in the area on Saturday. That caused flooding on the field and the referees deemed it unplayable. The game was rescheduled and played on Sunday morning with a 10 a.m. local kickoff.

“You tailor your whole day towards the game,” Spirit defender Rebecca Quinn said. “I know a couple of the players were having caffeine at a little later hours of the night so it was a bit tough getting to bed yesterday. I think it’s fun having it at our normal training so we’re normally ready to go at 10 a.m. in the morning so that wasn’t too bad.”

Right from the get go, the pace was flying. Francisca Ordega nearly scored in the first minute but Dash goalkeeper Jane Campbell was able to keep it out. In the third minute, Dash forward Rachel Daly got on the end of a Sofia Huerta ball and put it past an on rushing Spirit goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe.

Kelley Piper | Follow Your Spirit
Rachel Daly scores the lone goal of the game, beating Aubrey Bledsoe and Tori Huster.

Spirit find success in 3-5-2 formation

Washington continued to press for much of the game but never found the back of the net. In total, the Spirit managed nine shots on goal and 11 corner kicks, both season highs. Much of that success had to do with the formation that head coach Jim Gabarra had them playing. A 3-5-2 with Quinn, Estelle Johnson, and Tori Huster in the back and Taylor Smith and Caprice Dydasco as wingbacks on the outside provided Washington with the attacking presence that has been missing for most of the season.

“I think that’s always a positive with our wingbacks, as you would call it, getting forward,” Quinn said. “Especially with Taylor getting a lot of options end line. She gave us some really good chances in both halves. I think that’s the main positive coming out of that formation. Then as well, me and Tori were able to get into some good spaces to distribute into our forwards as well.”

Kelley Piper | Follow Your Spirit
Taylor Smith plays a ball into the attack during the second half.

Field conditions greatly improved on Sunday

Despite the dumping of water that occurred on Saturday, the field managed to drain fairly well overnight. With rain showers stopping around midnight, the field was able to dry out to become playable on Sunday. There did not appear to be any standing water inside the lines, unlike Saturday night. Saturday evening, there were huge puddles stretching from one 18 yard box to the other.

“Yeah, I was pleasantly surprised coming out here this morning with how it drained out,” Quinn said. “I was a little bit skeptical when they were saying it only took an hour but I guess they were right, the grounds crew. It wasn’t bad at all, there weren’t any puddles. I was pretty happy with it.”

Jordan Small | Follow Your Spirit
Starting XI: Aubrey Bledsoe; Tori Huster, Estelle Johnson, Rebecca Quinn; Caprice Dydasco, Meggie Dougherty Howard, Estefania Banini, Andi Sullivan, Taylor Smith; Ashley Hatch, Francisca Ordega

Next Up

The NWSL will take next weekend off as the United States plays host to Japan, Australia, and Brazil in the Tournament of Nations. When action gets back underway on August 5, the Spirit will head out to the west coast to take on the Seattle Reign. That will be the first of three games the Spirit will play on the road.

Game Day CoverageGame PreviewRose Lavelle

After a bye week last weekend, the Washington Spirit return home to face the Houston Dash. This will be the last game before the league goes on break for the Tournament of Nations.

Kick-Off

7:00 PM ET on Saturday, July 21, 2018

Location

Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, Maryland

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

Midfielder Rose Lavelle has been called up for the United States. Lavelle and the USWNT will play three games over between July 26 and August 2. In the three games, the defending World Cup champions will face Japan, Australia, and Brazil.

Injuries

OUT: Cali Farquharson (left tibial stress injury -D45), Cheyna Matthews (pregnancy), Mallory Pugh (right PCL sprain), Arielle

Ship (right ACL recovery– D45), Tiffany Weimer (left knee Baker’s cyst– D45)

QUESTIONABLE: None

INTERNATIONAL DUTY: Rose Lavelle (USA)

Key to Victory

Keep an eye on Daly. Rachel Daly has been on a tear in the 2018 season for the Houston Dash. In the first matchup between these two teams on May 27, Daly had two of three goals for the Dash in a 3-2 victory. Daly has six goals on the year and is eighth in the league for goals scored. If the Spirit want to come away with any points against Houston, keeping Daly’s damage to a minimum is very important.

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Go90

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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.

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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.

Game Day CoverageGame Preview

After playing host to the Orlando Pride twice this season, the Washington Spirit will travel to Orlando to take on the Pride in the final matchup between these two teams in 2018. The game is the NWSL Game of the Week.

Kick-Off

7:30 PM ET on Saturday, July 7, 2018

Location

Orlando City Stadium in Orlando, Florida

Projected Starting Lineup

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

Noteworthy

It has now been 450 minutes since the Spirit last scored a goal. While they have still been able to pick up two points in those five games, their last win was May 23 against a winless Sky Blue. A bright spot for Washington is that the other win for the squad on the season was against Orlando back in March.

Injuries

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

QUESTIONABLE: Estefania Banini (right hamstring inflammation), Mallory Eubanks (right ankle sprain), Rose Lavelle (left hamstring inflammation)

INTERNATIONAL DUTY: None

Key to Victory

Take Quality Shots. When in a scoring drought, teams have a tendency to try and take any shot they can. This can often lead to rushed shots that would have been better with one more pass or touch. The same can be said in the other direction however, when a shot can present itself and teams will overpass. For the Spirit, it has been a little bit of both over these past few weeks. The biggest thing for them this week is taking good, quality shots to set themselves up for good things to happen.

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