Washington, D.C., (04/27/2021) – The Washington Spirit tied their final match of the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup Presented by Secret Deodorant on Tuesday night at Audi Field in Washington DC, 0–0.
In their first home game with a live crowd since September 28, 2019, the Washington Spirit took the field in their navy home kit to applause and cheers from the fans in attendance. The energy was palpable as the Spirit prepared for kickoff on a sun-soaked evening in the nation’s capital.
Gotham FC won an early corner after Carli Lloyd saw her attempt inside the box deflected by Tori Huster. On the counter, Tegan McGrady got the crowd off their feet with a searching cross into the box from the left flank. NJ/NY then marched down the field, and Midge Purce fired a shot from the top of the 18, which struck the outside of the bottom-right post.
Applause sounded throughout Audi Field when Kumi Yokoyama won a free kick from 22 yards out in the 11’. McGrady stepped up and hammered a left-footed shot into the wall, earning her team a corner.
It was all Gotham FC in the 20th minute; Paige Monaghan broke free and sent a low shot at Aubrey Bledsoe, who was off her line quickly to steady the ship. Led by the dynamic duo of Trinity Rodman and Ashley Sanchez up top, the Spirit began putting pressure on Didi Haracic in net. The heroics continued, this time on the defensive end as Saori Takarada foiled a two-on-one in the 28’. Minutes later, Bledsoe parried a Monaghan shot away for a corner.
"Nope." – @AubreyBledsoe 🙅♀️#WASvNJNY | https://t.co/0LtSAUK1Jw | #CC21 pic.twitter.com/a949p3cWTO
— National Women's Soccer League (@NWSL) April 27, 2021
In the 32’, Sanchez drove at Gotham FC’s defense and nearly wrapped her foot around what would have been an 18-yard dream-shot, but the attempt was a bit too high. On the other end, Bledsoe made a point-blank save on Monaghan, and although the forward stepped offside, the save was nonetheless impressive. With no stoppage time at the end of the first half, the Spirit retreated to the dressing room under a cacophony of screams and cowbells.
Things started to heat up five minutes into the second. Andi Sullivan jinked past three defenders to break into open space. Moments later, the captain found Ashley Hatch in front of net, but her header, which had Haracic beat, struck the crossbar.
Hatch is heating 🆙#WASvNJNY | https://t.co/0LtSAUK1Jw | #CC21 pic.twitter.com/OcxipzokMS
— National Women's Soccer League (@NWSL) April 28, 2021
In the 55’, Sullivan picked up the ball at the top of the 18, took a touch and unleashed a low dart that forced a diving save from Haracic. Under a minute after seeing her shot expertly saved, Sullivan was left wide open inside the six on a corner kick, and while she managed to get her head on the cross, the shot fell just wide.
With 15 minutes to play, Lloyd picked off an errant back pass and found Ifeoma Onumonu in the box, but stellar defending — to the tune of a diving block — from Emily Sonnett kept Gotham off the scoresheet.
Sam Staab made her Challenge Cup debut in the 78th minute after missing the first three contests. With timing running out, Rodman bought herself a bit of room on the right wing, but the Spirit’s final attempt of the outing curved off target.
-NWSL Match Report-
Match: Washington Spirit vs. NJ/NY Gotham FC
Date: April 21, 2021
Venue: Audi Field
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Weather: Partly cloudy, low 80s
|NJ/NY Gotham FC||0||0||0|
WAS (4-2-3-1): 1-Aubrey Bledsoe; 7-Saori Takarada (3-Sam Staab 78’); 6-Emily Sonnett; 23-Tori Huster (30-Camryn Biegalsk 79’); 9-Tegan McGrady (16-Julia Roddar 62’); 12-Andi Sullivan (c); 17-Kumi Yokoyama (21-Anna Heilferty 61’); 19-Dorian Bailey; 2-Trinity Rodman; 10-Ashley Sanchez; 33-Ashley Hatch
Unused Substitutes: 4-Natalie Jacobs; 11-Jordan DiBiasi; 18-Devon Kerr; 20-Mariana Spechmaier; 24-Chinyelu Asher: 31-Sydney Schneider
NJ/NY (4-4-2): 13-Dijana Haracic; 24-Estelle Johnson; 28-Imani Dorsey; 12-Gina Lewandowski; 3-Caprice Dydasco; 6-Jennifer Cudjoe (7-McCall Zerboni 70’); 11-Lee So-Dam (19-Elizabeth Eddy 59’); 4-Paige Monaghan (25-Ifeoma Onumonu 59’); 23-Margaret Purce; 9-Nahomi Kawasumi; 10-Carli Lloyd (c)
Unused Substitutes: 22-Mandy Freeman;17-Dominique Richardson; 5-Nicole Baxter; 20-Evelyne Viens; 21-Amanda McGlynn; 15-Sabrina Flores
Stats Summary: WAS / NJ/NY
Shots: 19 / 13
Shots on Target: 4 / 2
Saves: 2 / 4
Blocked Shots: 4 / 5
Fouls: 10 / 10
Offside: 1 / 6
WAS – Anna Heilferty 88’ – Yellow Card
Referee: Karen Callado
Assistant Referee 1: Jennifer Garner
Assistant Referee 2: Meghan Mullen
Fourth Official: Nickrod Fateh