Boyds, MD (January 16, 2018) – The Washington Spirit has acquired U.S. Women’s National Team defender Taylor Smith and 2017 NWSL Rookie of the Year forward Ashley Hatch via trade from the North Carolina Courage.
In exchange, the Courage will receive an international roster spot and the NWSL rights to U.S. international forward Crystal Dunn, who signed for Chelsea Ladies following the Spirit’s 2016 season.
Smith and Hatch, who have each played their way into the U.S. Women’s National Team player pool in recent years, both had integral roles in helping the Courage capture the 2017 NWSL Shield and advance to the NWSL Championship Final.
Smith led a Courage defense which limited opponents to less than a goal per game, and earned her first seven international camps with the U.S. during 2017.
“Taylor has developed into one of the best right backs in the NWSL,” said Spirit Head Coach and General Manager Jim Gabarra. “She has performed very well both with the national team and the Courage, and has been part of winning teams her entire career. She will be a difference maker for us.”
Hatch, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NWSL Draft, led all rookies with seven goals scored, including three game-winners, over the course of 24 appearances.
“Ashley had tremendous success in her rookie season and it is rare that any player achieves what she did in her first season in the NWSL,” Gabarra said. “Her natural ability to score goals is something all teams search for. Taylor and Ashley are not only top players, they are both quality people and we are elated to have them join our club.”
Smith, a 24-year-old from Fort Worth, Texas, represented the U.S. at the U-17, U-20 and U-23 levels before earning her first call-up to the senior team in 2017. She played collegiately at UCLA from 2012-2015, and helped the Bruins capture their first-ever NCAA College Cup title in 2013. She made 18 appearances and scored two goals during her rookie NWSL season in 2016 for the league champion Western New York Flash.
Hatch, a 22-year-old from San Dimas, California, played college soccer at Brigham Young University, where she scored 47 goals in her 75-game career from 2013-2016. She made her debut with the senior U.S. national team at the age of 21 in October 2016 in a friendly against Switzerland.
Dunn scored 19 goals in 58 appearances for the Spirit over the course of the 2014-2016 NWSL seasons, including both tallies in the 2016 NWSL Championship game between these same two teams. With the Courage, she would return to the state of North Carolina, where she stared at UNC Chapel Hill from 2010-2013.
“Crystal’s contributions to the Spirit have been massive,” Gabarra said. “She is the definition of an impact player in the NWSL. We thank Crystal for all she has done for our club and wish her good luck in North Carolina.”
Fans of both teams will have the chance to preview their new editions before the season as the Spirit are scheduled to host the Courage in Richmond, Virginia on March, 17. The 7 p.m. game hosted by the Richmond Kickers at the 9,000-capacity Richmond City Stadium will be the first preseason game against a fellow NWSL opponent in Spirit history, and the first time two professional women’s soccer teams face of in the city. 2018 Washington Spirit season tickets will be honored at the game. [SEASON TICKETS]
All other fans can order tickets for the game at RichmondKickers.com.
The Spirit will also make a preseason return to Evergreen Sportsplex in Leesburg, Va. on March 10 for a friendly against 22-time women’s college champion University of North Carolina. [TICKETS]. The 2018 NWSL regular season kicks off March 24 and runs through September, with each of the 10 teams playing 24 regular season games.