Orlando, Fla. (05/19/2023) – The Washington Spirit will face the Orlando Pride on Saturday night in both sides’ eighth match of the regular season. The match kicks off at 7 p.m. EDT at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida and will broadcast nationally on Paramount+ for fans across the United States, while local fans can view the game on NBC Sports Washington. International viewers can stream the match on NWSLSoccer.com as well.
Following a 1-0 victory against Angel City FC last weekend, the Spirit catapulted to the top of the NWSL and became the only team in the league without a loss. Last Saturday’s victory came off a game-winning penalty kick goal in the fourth minute of second half stoppage time from forward Ashley Hatch. She is now six-for-six from the spot during her Spirit career and her last three goals have come from penalties – all of which came on the road. Three road penalties are the most through seven games in the NWSL since 2016 and are also the most total road penalties through an entire season during that time. The goal increased Hatch’s season goal total to five, helping her take command of the Golden Boot race.
Keeper Aubrey Kingsbury’s clean sheet against Angel City was her third of the 2023 regular season and the 29th of her career. Only three goalkeepers in NWSL history have recorded 30 or more clean sheets. Among keepers who have played all seven games, Kingsbury ranks first in save percentage (80%) and goals conceded (5).
Saturday will mark the second matchup against Orlando in ten days. The Spirit is unbeaten in its last eight games against Orlando across all NWSL competitions (three wins, five draws), including a 4-2 win in a 2023 UKG NWSL Challenge Cup match on May 10. All four goals in that game came from outside the box, the only time in NWSL history (all competitions) a team has scored more than two such goals in a single game. Those four goals account for two-thirds of the six total goals from outside of the box from all teams this Challenge Cup.
All four of those goals came from different Spirit players – Lena Silano, Sam Staab, Marissa Sheva and Ashley Sanchez. Silano and Sheva’s goals were the first goals of their careers, while Staab’s was only the sixth free kick goal in Challenge Cup history. Chloe Ricketts made her first career NWSL start and logged her first career assist, setting up Sheva’s goal.
The Spirit’s 419 passes into the final third are third in the NWSL, while Orlando’s 339 are the fewest. Both teams are great in one-on-one matchups, with the Pride leading the NWSL with 372 duels won, while the Spirit is third with 355.
Following Saturday’s match, the Spirit will face the NJ/NY Gotham FC at Audi Field on Sunday, May 28 at 5 p.m. EDT. This match will continue the Stars & Spirits series in which fans can receive a 20% discount on a three-match ticket package for games against some of the biggest stars in the league – Kelley O’Hara and Lynn Williams (NJ/NY), Julie Ertz and Alyssa Thompson (LA) and Crystal Dunn and Sophia Smith (POR). Tickets can be found here.
Orlando will host the Spirit coming off a 0-0 draw against NJ/NY Gotham FC. It was a game that the Pride had many chances in, doubling Gotham’s shot total and logging five more shots on goal. Orlando’s defense was solid – keeper Anna Moorhouse recorded her second consecutive clean sheet. Pride coach Seb Hines opted to play the same Starting XI for the third straight regular season game.
Orlando is unbeaten, conceding just once in that span. It is the first time since May 2018 that the Pride has allowed one goal or fewer in a three-game span. Prior to the draw, the Pride notched two straight victories over San Diego Wave FC and Racing Louisville FC. The team’s recent success comes in stark contrast to its start to the season that saw zero wins in the first four games during which the Pride had a -9 goal differential. Orlando’s victory over Racing Louisville is its only home win, tied for the fewest home wins in the league.
Notably, midfielder Erika Tymrak made her 100th start in NWSL regular season play in the Pride’s draw over the weekend. Of the 56 players with 100+ starts in league history, Tymrak is the only one who has also made more than 40 appearances as a substitute (61). It was also her 175th appearance through all competitions.
Orlando struggles shooting the ball accurately (44.62%) and getting shots inside the opponent’s box (49), holding the second-lowest figures in both categories among NWSL teams this season. Both the Pride and the Spirit struggle to possess the ball – WAS (45.92%, lowest in league) and ORL (47%, third lowest in league) – however, in last week’s matchup, the Spirit won possession 58.6% to Orlando’s 41.4%.
Next up, Orlando hits the road to face the Chicago Red Stars in Bridgeview, Illinois at 8 p.m. EDT on Saturday, May 27.
- The Spirit owns an 8-5-7 all-time record against the Pride, with a 2-4-4 record on the road. The Spirit has only one victory at Exploria Stadium in nine attempts.
- The Spirit is the sixth team in league history to have zero losses through the first seven games of a season, however, the team is looking to become the fourth team to go unbeaten through eight games (2018 NC, 2016 POR, 2014 RGN).
- Ashley Hatch has scored nine career goals against Orlando in all NWSL competitions, including scoring in each of her last six regular season matches against the Pride. That’s the longest streak of appearances with a goal against a single opponent in NWSL history.
- Hatch has accounted for all three of the Spirit’s penalty kick attempts this season. Three penalties are the most of any team in the NWSL this season.
- The Spirit has a 2-0-2 record on the road this season (one of only three teams with more than one road victory), scoring penalties in both wins.
- Orlando’s 96 tackles won are the most in the NWSL.
- Former Spirit players:
- Pride defender Megan Montefusco played with the Spirit from 2015-16, making 35 appearances in that time.
- Former college teammates meet again:
- Spirit midfielder Marissa Sheva played with Pride defender Kerry Abello at Penn State (2017-18).
- Spirit midfielder Ashley Sanchez played with Pride midfielder Viviana Villacorta at UCLA (2017-19).
- Spirit defender Tara McKeown played with Pride goalkeeper Kaylie Collins at USC (2017 – 20/21).
- Spirit defender Gabrielle Carle played with Pride defender Emily Madril at Florida State, under current Spirit President of Soccer Operations/General Manager Mark Krikorian (2017-21).