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Washington, D.C. (05/04/2022) – The Washington Spirit advanced to the 2022 Challenge Cup final Wednesday night after defeating top-seeded OL Reign in a ten-round penalty shootout, 9-8.
The match got off to a slow start but the crowd quickly woke up in the ninth minute when Ashley Sanchez showcased another ankle-breaking move on the attacking end of the field. The maneuver proved to be one of the few Spirit offensive highlights of a scoreless first half.
In the 16th minute, Spirit goalkeeper Aubrey Kingbury made a diving save in the bottom right corner off a shot from Rose Lavelle before Camryn Biegalski blocked a close-range shot by Jess Fishlock and Kingsbury made another save to end the threat. Fishlock again had a scoring chance as she approached in space and fired a shot just wide in the 19th minute.
The lack of scoring chances for the Spirit was noticeable after Sunday’s offensive showing. Heading into the break deadlocked at zero, the Reign’s Tullis-Joyce was only forced to tally one save after having ten total in Sunday’s match.
In the first minute out of the locker room, Biegalski got a rebound at the top of the box and had Washington’s best look at the net of the match but her shot was blocked out front. Over the next 15 minutes of play, Aubrey Kingsbury made several great stops and Dorian Bailey had two powerful shot attempts from just outside the box. Kingsbury’s saves included an interception of a feed into the center of the box and a quick reaction to catch a short-range header out front.
The Reign looked to finally break through in the 63rd minute with a close-range goal but a late offside call on Jess Fishlock negated the score. What followed was an eventful final 25 minutes. In the 67th minute, Washington had a flurry of chances out front, ending with a Trinity Rodman shot being blocked away for a corner kick. The 72nd minute saw Sanchez shake another defender and fire in another shot on goal, the 73rd had Rodman send a high-arching shot onto the top of the crossbar and the 77th bore witness to Kingsbury keeping the score even by way of a ball tipped over the crossbar. In the 86th minute, Rodman lobbed a cross right in front of the net to Sanchez, whose header found its way straight into Tullis-Joyce’s hands.
Per Challenge Cup rules, we headed straight to a penalty shootout after regulation ended in a scoreless draw. Both sides reached the back of the net in each of their first seven shots, including a conversion from Aubrey Kingsbury. Finally, in round eight, Tullis-Joyce made a diving save on Tinaya Alexander’s shot before Kingsbury followed it up with a diving save of her own on Nikki Stanton to keep the shootout going. After both sides scored in round nine, Sam Staab stepped up and fired her shot into the bottom left-hand corner of the net to once again give the Spirit the lead. The Reign’s Jess Fishlock came up needing a score to keep her side alive but Kingsbury sent Washington to the preseason tournament final with a one-handed tip over the crossbar.
The Spirit will now travel back to North Carolina to face the Courage for the third time in 2022 in this year’s Challenge Cup final on Saturday, May 7 at 1:00 p.m. EST. Washington’s match at Chicago originally scheduled for Saturday has been rescheduled to Wednesday, June 8 at 8:00 p.m. EST.
-NWSL Match Report-
Match: OL Reign vs. Washington Spirit
Date: May 4, 2022
Venue: Audi Field
Kickoff: 8:00 p.m. ET
Weather: Partly cloudy, high-60s
|OL Reign||0||0||0 (8)|
OLR: 91- Phallon Tullis-Joyce; 3- Lauren Barnes (Sinclaire Miramontez 90’ + 2’); 17- Sam Hiatt; 4- Alana Cook; 11- Sofia Huerta; 10- Jess Fishlock; 16- Rose Lavelle; 33- Olivia Van der Jagt (Nikki Stanton 81’); 6- Angelina (Tziarra King 81’, Megan Rapinoe 90’ + 2’); 8- Bethany Balcer; 24- Veronica Latsko (Ally Watt 56’)
Unused Substitutes: 12- Olivia Athens; 30- Claudia Dickey; 14- Jimena López; 21- Phoebe McClernon
WAS: 1- Aubrey Kingsbury; 30- Camryn Biegalski; 3- Sam Staab; 6- Emily Sonnett; 5- Kelley O’Hara (Dorian Bailey 46’); 16- Julia Roddar; 7- Taylor Aylmer (17- Tinaya Alexander 66’); 13- Bayley Feist (Anna Heilferty 46’); 10- Ashley Sanchez; 2- Trinity Rodman; 33- Ashley Hatch
Unused Substitutes: 11- Jordan Baggett; 22- Amber Brooks; 14- Morgan Goff; 27- Audrey Harding; 18- Devon Kerr; 4- Karina Rodriguez
Stats Summary: OLR / WAS
Shots: 21 / 12
Shots On Goal: 8 / 5
Saves: 5 / 8
Shots Blocked: 7 / 3
Fouls: 9 / 13
Offside: 4 / 1
OLR – Rose Lavelle – 18’ – Yellow Card
WAS – Bench – 70’ – Yellow Card
WAS – Julia Roddar – 87’ – Yellow Card
WAS – Trinity Rodman – 90’ + 1’ – Yellow Card