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Boyds, MD (August 18, 2017) – The Washington Spirit will make its only visit of the NWSL regular season to WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C. on Saturday afternoon for an NWSL Lifetime Game of the Week match-up with the North Carolina Courage. National TV coverage on Lifetime begins at 3:30 p.m. ET with kickoff set for 3:50. [WATCH LIVE]
Washington is coming off a 2-2 draw against the Boston Breakers in it last game, played on August 12 at the Maryland SoccerPlex. Defender Estelle Johnson netted her second goal of the season in the sixth minute and forward Cheyna Williams scored her third of the season on a close range header in the second half to help the Spirit earn a point against a Boston side sparked by a brace from Canadian international Adriana Leon. The draw extended the Spirit’s current home unbeaten streak to four games.
The Spirit is back on the road this weekend to face a North Carolina side which has won three straight games to open the month of August. The Courage earned back-to-back 1-0 shutouts against Seattle Reign and FC Kansas City to begin the month, as U.S. international Lynn Williams provided both of the game-winning goals. Carolina won its most recent game 2-1 on the road against Seattle Reign behind a brace from U.S. international Sam Mewis on Monday, August 14.
This Saturday will be the first meeting between the Spirit and Courage since a 1-0 defensive battle on the opening weekend of the season, in a re-match of the 2016 NWSL Championship. Carolina, in its first game since re-locating from Western New York in the off-season, emerged with the 1-0 win despite a career high eight-save performance from Spirit goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé.
In her first season with the Spirit since joining the team in the off-season from the Seattle Reign, Havana Solaun has scored a team-high five goals through her first 17 games. The 24-year-old midfielder out of the University of Florida also leads the team with three assists and recovered 95 loose balls to help in the possession battle.
Five other Spirit players – injured Nigerian international forward Francisca Ordega (4 goals), rookie U.S. international forward Mallory Pugh (3 goals), Williams (3 goals), Johnson (2 goals) and midfielder Kristie Mewis (2 goals) – have found the net multiple times this season for the team’s balanced attack. Williams, in her second season out of Florida State, has scored in two of the Spirit’s first three August games, bringing her within one goal of matching her rookie season total.
In the midfield, Spirit rookie Meggie Dougherty Howard is coming off a performance with 43 total passes, 37 of which came on the attacking side of the field last Saturday against Boston. Dougherty Howard is first on the team with 392 passes in the opposing half so far in her breakout rookie season out of the University of Florida.
On the defensive side, Canadian international center back Shelina Zadorsky has recorded a team-high 69 clearances while also leading the Spirit with 603 total passes and 78.8 percent passing accuracy. Johnson leads the Spirit defense with 59 interceptions and 44 tackles attempted, and Whitney Church, the only Spirit player to have played every minute this season, has blocked a team-high 16 shots.
For the Courage, Williams is the top scorer on the team with five goals through her first 14 appearances of 2017, followed by Mewis and Ashley Hatch with four goals each. Mewis, Williams and Makenzy Doniak are tied for the team lead with three assists apiece.
Defensively, Abby Erceg has made 57 clearances to lead the Courage, while McCall Zerboni has racked up 53 interceptions and attempted 98 tackles. Abby Dahlkemper‘s nine blocked shots are also good for a team-high.
Following Saturday’s road game in Carolina, the Spirit will return home for a set of two home games in a span of four days, starting on August 26 with a match-up against the Chicago Red Stars. On August 30, Washington will host the Courage for a midweek game.
Order tickets for the next two Spirit home games for one price: For as low as $25 fans can attend both our August 26 game against the Chicago Red Stars, and our August 30 game against the North Carolina Courage.