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By Owen Krucoff
Boyds, Md., (6/20/19) – Following a 1-1 draw at Reign FC last weekend, the first-place Washington Spirit are back at the Maryland SoccerPlex this Saturday as they play host to the Houston Dash. The game will be the Spirit’s inaugural Pride Night, and kickoff is set for 7 p.m. ET. During a halftime ceremony, Spirit legend Joanna Lohman will become the first player in team history to have her number retired.
As the game approaches, here are some notable Spirit stats to keep an eye on.
Last week’s result in Tacoma, Washington, was Washington’s sixth straight without a defeat, the longest such streak in the history of the team. It has now been two full months since the Spirit’s last loss, against Utah Royals FC on April 20. During the streak, the Spirit are outscoring their opponents 11-4 and have risen to the top of the NWSL table.
With attacking options such as Mallory Pugh and Cheyna Matthews gone on international duty, forward Ashley Hatch has stepped up to shoulder the goalscoring load and keep the Spirit cruising during the World Cup period. Many teams struggle to keep up after losing key players to their national teams, but Hatch’s recent performances highlight Washington’s depth and are a big reason behind the team’s rise to the top of the standings.
The Spirit has a history of playing tough against the Dash at home. The last time Houston scored more than one goal in a match at the Maryland SoccerPlex was May 26, 2014, in a game the Spirit still managed to win, 3-2. The player who scored the stoppage-time winner that day, Christine Nairn, now plays for the Dash.
Washington possesses the NWSL’s second-best shot conversion rate, scoring on more than 13% of its attempted shots. This stat exemplifies the team’s turnaround from last season. The Spirit were least in the league with a 4.1% conversion rate a year ago.
The Spirit continues to be one of the top passing teams in the NWSL, boasting four of the league’s six players who have made 300 or more passes with a completion percentage of 80% or higher. Defenders Paige Nielsen and Sam Staab and midfielders Meggie Dougherty Howard and Andi Sullivan are making Washington a dangerous team whenever the ball bounces their way.
Kickoff against the Dash is set for 7:00 p.m. ET with Gate D & the Fan Zone opening at 5:30 p.m. ET for all ticket-holding fans and Gate A opening at 6:00 p.m. [TICKETS]