Spirit Look to Close Out 2021 Challenge Cup With Victory

Washington Spirit  |   April 26, 2021
Spirit Look to Close Out 2021 Challenge Cup With Victory Featured Image

WASHINGTON D.C., ON MARCH 28, 2021 – MARCH 28: Washington, D.C.- March 28: Washington Spirit defender Emily Sonnett (6) during a match between the Washington Spirit and Sky Blue FC at Audi Field, in Washington D.C., on March 28, 2021 during a game between Sky Blue FC and Washington Spirit at Audi Field, in Washington D.C., on March 28, 2021 in Washington D.C., on March 28, 2021.

Jordan Small

Leesburg, VA., (04/26/2021) – The Washington Spirit will face NJ/NY Gotham FC in the final match of the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup Presented by Secret Deodorant on Tuesday, April 27 at 7 pm ET at Audi Field in Washington, D.C. The match will be broadcasted on Paramount+ in the US and on Twitch for international viewers.

The Opposition
Gotham FC has gotten off to a great start so far in the Challenge Cup, beating the Orlando Pride 1-0 in the first match and 4-3 in their most recent match against the North Carolina Courage. Heading into their third match, they sit atop the East with six points, two points ahead of the Pride in second.

Former Spirit goalkeeper DiDi Haracic is holding it down for Gotham FC, making nine saves over two matches to help keep them in control of the East. Along the backline, Imani Dorsey, Mandy Freeman and Gina Lewandowski have started both games and have been key, especially in the second halves, to keeping their opponents to just one goal after halftime.

Upfront, keep an eye on Paige Monoghan, Midge Purce and Carli Lloyd who have combined for four of the five goals scored by Gotham FC so far this Challenge Cup. Also, be on the lookout for Jenifer Cudjoe and Naho Kawasumi who are key in building up the attack out of the midfield. The battle of the midfield will be the matchup to watch out for and likely where the game will be won or lost.

The Spirit
The Spirit are coming off a tough 1-0 loss to the Orlando Pride last week. After an exciting end to the match against Louisville in the last home game, the Spirit could not find the back of the net against the Orlando Pride. 

In Orlando, the Spirit recorded 20 shots, including nine on goal. Heading into the final match of the season, the Spirit will need to convert on their chances to take away points in this match. Forward Ashley Hatch led the team with four shots and two shots on goal with forward Trinity Rodman adding two more, including one on net. Hatch, Rodman and forward Ashley Sanchez will need to build up momentum heading into the regular season to help the Spirit earn points. 

The defense returned to four at the back after finishing the game against Louisville that way. With an injury to Paige Nielsen keeping her out of the lineup last game, Head Coach Richie Burke turned to USWNT centerback Emily Sonnett and Japanese international Saori Takarada. These two will be key to the defense once again this week. Also expect outsideback Tegan McGrady to once again have a big impact at both ends of the field. 

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