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Boyds, MD (July 20, 2018) – The Washington Spirit are back home after a three-game road trip to take on the Houston Dash Saturday night at the Maryland SoccerPlex. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m. ET with a live stream available on go90.
Saturday’s game will be the second matchup between the Spirit and Dash. Houston took the first game in a 3-2 decision. In the 54th minute, Estefania Banini scored her first goal of the season. Taylor Smith crossed a pass across the goal box to Banini, who got the shot past Dash goaltender Jane Campbell and a defender to get the Spirit on the board. Ashley Hatch scored her third goal of the season in extra time after a turnover from Houston.
The Spirit come back to the Maryland SoccerPlex after a three-game road trip against the Chicago Red Stars, Orlando Pride and North Carolina Courage. Their final game of the trip concluded with a tough 2-0 loss against league-leading Courage.
“It’s been a long road trip so it will mean a lot to have our fan support out there,” said Spirit goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe. “It’s always great to play here at the SoccerPlex. We’re looking forward to a big crowd to help cheer us to victory.”
Washington looks to carry that momentum from Orlando into Saturday. Hatch (4 goals, 1 assist), the Spirit’s new leader in goals, and Francisca Ordega (3 goals) will lead the Spirit’s offensive push as the team looks to continue to increase their offensive chances from their road trip. The Spirit will also get help from Mallory Eubanks, who returned to action against North Carolina, after missing five games to injury.
Defensively, Washington will have to challenge the high-scoring offense led by Houston’s Rachel Daly (6 goals). Along with Daly, Houston’s leader in goals, Bledsoe and the Spirit backline will focus on stopping Kealia Ohai (4 goals, 2 assists) and newly acquired Sofia Huerta (5 goals, 3 assists).
Defensive effort in the midfield could prove key as well for the Spirit in slowing down the Dash’s quickstrike style on the attacking side.
“One of Houston’s strengths is just being able to create opportunities out of nothing or very little, so I think we’re just going to have to be sharp at every point in the game and really denying them any energy or momentum,” said midfielder Andi Sullivan.
Houston’s top scoring trio has only scored four goals on the road this season. While the Spirit defense have held opponents to an average of 1.4 goals per game and four shutouts with seven games remaining in the regular season.
The Spirit take to the road again to start another three-game road trip against Seattle Reign FC Sunday, August 5 at 9:00 p.m. ET. Washington returns home Wednesday, August 22 to take on the Utah Royals FC at 7:30 p.m. ET.