Spirit Hone in on North Carolina Looking to Pick Up Second Straight Win at Audi

Washington Spirit  |   August 28, 2021
Spirit Hone in on North Carolina Looking to Pick Up Second Straight Win at Audi Featured Image

Sara Campbell

Leesburg, VA., (08/28/2021) — The Washington Spirit will face off against the North Carolina Courage on Sunday, August 29 at 5:00 p.m. ET at Audi Field. The match will be live streamed on Paramount+ for domestic and international fans. 

Sunday’s fixture will be the second meeting between the two teams this regular season. Last  month, the Spirit fashionably shut out the Courage 2-0 with a brace from Ashley Hatch. The result was Washington’s first-ever clean sheet to date against North Carolina. 

The Spirit 

Clinging onto the league’s third position, Washington is coming off of an impressive and imperative win against the Orlando Pride. The Spirit came back from trailing to top the Pride after Hatch and Ashley Sanchez scored one goal each. Hatch’s goal took place only two minutes following Marta’s opening goal, while Sanchez’s clinical shot emerged in the 89’. 

On top of logging four goals this season, Trinity Rodman continues to make a noticeable impact on the pitch. The young attacker provides an added layer of bite to the offense as she assisted Sanchez’s goal against the Pride. Rodman’s post-up game and her constant offensive pressure create her strong, attacking presence. She is fifth in the league for the most shots at 29 total shots with 16 of those on frame. 

Assisting the Spirit’s offense is Tara McKeown, who rounded off three shots in the most recent triumph against Orlando. The 22-year-old had an assist in the 2-2 draw against Houston Dash on August 13. McKeown also possesses a defensive element to her playing, having been successful in 14 out of 16 tackles — which amounts to a 87.5% success rate. In the air, the multi-skilled player has won 52% of her aerial duels or 13 out of 25 headers. 

Given the current standings, Washington remains in a crucial position as they are tied at 22 points with OL Reign for third place. 

The Opposition 

The Courage currently sit one place above the Spirit on the table, claiming second place with 27 total points. North Carolina has earned three consecutive clean sheets, going undefeated so far in the month of August. Out of only four losses (8-4-3) this year, the Spirit account for one of them. 

In the Courage’s last matchup, they comfortably quelled Kansas City 4-0 at home. Lynn Williams, Jessica McDonald, Amy Rodriguez, and Meredith Speck were the players to get on the scoreboard — all whom have tallied 15 goals combined this season. 

Up top, Williams remains as an extreme offensive peril to backlines across the NWSL. Her hard-to-beat pace combined with her crafty foot skills makes her one of the most difficult attackers to defend. Just shy of the league leaders in goals scored, Williams has contributed six goals this year despite temporarily leaving to compete in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

On the opposite end of the field, North Carolina’s goalkeeper Casey Murphy has really come into her own this year. Murphy has marked eight clean sheets for her side and 61 saves out of 70 total shots faced. The 25-year-old ranks second behind Michelle Betos for the most saves in the entire league. 

Long-time head coach Paul Riley will look for his team to maintain their spot in the standings this weekend as there are only eight more regular-season matches to be played.  

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