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Washington Spirit to host league-leading North Carolina Courage on Wednesday night

North Carolina Courage (13-5-0, 39 pts) at Washington Spirit (4-11-4, 16 pts)
2017 NWSL Regular Season
Maryland SoccerPlex – Boyds, MD
Wednesday, August 30th – 7:30 p.m. ET
#WASvNC | TICKETS

The Washington Spirit is offering fans ‘Buy One Get One Free’ tickets for Wednesday night’s game against the North Carolina Courage. When ordering at Tickets.WashingtonSpirit.com, use the Promo Code: AUG30BOGO | Offer valid through Tuesday only. 

Boyds, MD (August 29, 2017) – Wednesday night will mark the second leg of a quick two-game homestand for the Washington Spirit, who will play host to the league-leading North Carolina Courage at the Maryland SoccerPlex. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ET with a live stream available on go90.

Washington came up just short in the first game of the homestand on Saturday night, as an 81st minute equalizer by Spirit forward Cheyna Williams was nullified in the 87th minute when U.S. international Christen Press scored what proved to be the game-winner for the visiting Chicago Red Stars in a 2-1 result.

Spirit rookie and U.S. international Mallory Pugh notched the first assist of her pro career against Chicago, setting up Williams’ point blank header on a long aerial pass from a free kick. The Spirit attack will look to continue its positive momentum from the second half of the game against the Red Stars as it hosts a 13-win Courage squad looking to become the first team to clinch a spot in the NWSL Playoffs.

+By the Numbers: Top Washington Spirit stats to know ahead of #WASvNC

“It’s another big challenge for us against a strong Carolina team,” said Spirit head coach and general manager Jim Gabarra. “We will continue to try to find some positive momentum and play to our standards while earning a result.”

The Courage have gotten the best of the Spirit so far this season, winning both of the first two meetings between the sides. North Carolina defeated Washington 1-0 on the opening weekend of the regular season back in April, despite a career-high eight save performance by Spirit goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé. North Carolina came away with a 2-0 win in Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park in the teams’ second match-up on August 19.

Prior to Saturday’s loss to Chicago, the Spirit had gone unbeaten in four straight home games. Scoring first will be of utmost importance for Washington, as North Carolina is winless (0-5-0) when conceding first.

The Spirit attack has three players ranked in the top 20 among the league leaders in goals, including Havana Solaun (5 goals), Nigerian international Francisca Ordega (4 goals) and Williams (4 goals). Williams has found the net in each of the team’s past two games at the Maryland SoccerPlex, and has scored in three of the team’s last five games overall.

Defensively, Washington is led by Estelle Johnson, the only Spirit player to have started all 19 games. Johnson is first on the team with 64 interceptions and in tackles attempted with 45. Canadian international Shelina Zadorsky has made a team-high 79 clearances from her center back position, and she is tied with Whitney Church for the lead in blocked shots with 15.

North Carolina has the top-ranked defense in the NWSL with only 14 goals allowed through 18 regular season games. The Courage have racked up a league-high 10 clean sheets, and have only allowed 61 opposing shots on target, 19 fewer than the next stingiest defense. Courage goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland leads the league in save percentage, having stopped 32-of-36 shots faced (88.9 percent).

On the attacking side, U.S. international and 2016 NWSL Golden Boot winner Lynn Williams is tied with Ashley Hatch for the Courage team lead with five goals. Williams, U.S. international teammate Sam Mewis and forward Makenzy Doniak lead the Courage with three assists each.

Midfielder McCall Zerboni leads the NWSL in tackles won with 77 through her first 18 games. She averages 4.3 tackles won per game, while no other player in the league has averaged more than 2.7. Zerboni also leads the Courage defense with 64 interceptions.

Following the third and final meeting of the season on Wednesday against the Courage, the Spirit will travel to Portland for the NWSL on Lifetime Game of the Week against Thorns FC at Providence Park.

The next Spirit home game will be on Saturday, September 23 when the team plays host to the Boston Breakers at the Maryland SoccerPlex. [TICKETS]