Spirit Draws Courage Again, Waits For Wild Card Chance

Washington Spirit  |   April 23, 2022
Spirit Draws Courage Again, Waits For Wild Card Chance Featured Image

Sam Pittman
Cary, NC (04/23/2022) – Washington’s fourth tie of the 2022 Challenge Cup will give the side a chance at the wild card berth in the semifinals as the North Carolina Courage took home the East division crown. A loss from Portland Thorns FC tomorrow night in Los Angeles would give the Spirit the fourth seed in this year’s preseason tournament.

The Courage came out of the gates firing with a second-minute crossing shot from Kerolin Ferraz that bounced squarely off the crossbar. Two minutes later, North Carolina’s Taylor Smith had a breakaway chance before Amber Brooks slid in with a great tackle to end the threat.

The Spirit seemed to settle in on defense after the early test from North Carolina and was able to put together a few offensive opportunities of its own in the following ten minutes. A sixth-minute Emily Sonnett header went just wide of the net and Kelley O’Hara tried to head home a feed from Trinity Rodman in the seventh minute but was just high. Finally, Washington broke through when Ashley Hatch stole a ball out front and tucked a shot just outside the reach of Courage goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland and into the bottom left corner for the 1-0 lead in the 15th minute.

North Carolina was back on the attack after ceding the opening goal with Emily Sonnett having to make a sliding block of a shot from Debinha at the top of the box and reigning goalkeeper of the year Aubrey Kingsbury being forced to make key saves in the 26th and 31st minutes. Morgan Goff entered the game on the defending third in the 27th minute after Kelley O’Hara had to be subbed out due to injury.

Washington had another opportunity in the 37th minute when North Carolina’s Abby Erceg was issued a yellow card for a bad tackle on Trinity Rodman just outside the box near the endline. Ashley Sanchez sent the ensuing free kick across the box and Rodman nearly doubled the Spirit lead with a header but played the ball just over the crossbar. It looked like the visitors would take the 1-0 lead into the locker room at halftime but the Courage was able to draw a foul in the box in first half stoppage time. Debinha took advantage of the opportunity and sent the penalty kick just over the outstretched arms of Aubrey Kingsbury and into the right side of the net.

Just seven minutes into the second half, a breaking Malia Berkely stole a pass in the Spirit’s defensive zone and rifled a shot into the top left corner of the goal from outside the box to put the Courage on top 2-1. Despite the quick turnaround by North Carolina, the Spirit kept its foot on the pedal in the attacking zone. Ashley Hatch connected with Anna Heilferty on a cross to the front of the net in the 57th minute which Heilferty tapped past Katelyn Rowland. The ball creeped toward the vacant goal but was cleared at the last moment by Jaelene Daniels.

With under 20 minutes to go, North Carolina’s Kerolin drew a foul in the box on Morgan Goff, giving the Courage a great opportunity to double its lead. Debinha once again stepped up to the dot but her shot to the lower left side of the net was saved by Aubrey Kingsbury.

Only three minutes later, Trinity Rodman was fouled by Katelyn Rowland while going for a loose ball in the box, setting up the third penalty kick of the match. Defending Golden Boot winner Ashley Hatch lined her shot up and buried the equalizer with ease. With 15 minutes to go, the Spirit found itself in position to stay alive in the semifinal race and a goal away from the East division title.

A few blocked attempts for each side and an exciting Rodman-Sanchez push in the final minutes defined the rest of regulation, ultimately ending the second 2-2 draw between Washington and North Carolina of the young season. While the tie doesn’t quite get it done for the Spirit, it does keep the club’s hopes of making it out of group play alive. With ten points, Washington is currently tied with Portland for best second place team but owns the goal differential tiebreaker. A loss by the Thorns on Sunday propels the Spirit into the 2022 Challenge Cup semifinals while a draw or win by Portland earns the west coast club a berth.

Next up for your Washington Spirit is the regular season opener at Audi Field against OL Reign on Sunday, May 1.

-NWSL Match Report-

Match: North Carolina Courage vs. Washington Spirit

Date: April 23, 2022

Venue: Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park

Kickoff: 1:00 p.m. ET

Weather: mostly sunny, low-80s

Scoring Summary:

Goals 1 2 F
North Carolina 1 1 2
Washington 1 1 2

WAS – Ashley Hatch – 15’

NCC – Debinha – 45’ + 4’ (PK)

NCC – Malia Berkely – 52’

WAS – Ashley Hatch – 75’ (PK)


NCC: 99- Katelyn Rowland; 5- Brianna Pinto (23- Kiki Pickett 46’); 6- Abby Erceg; 3- Kaleigh Kurtz; 11- Merritt Mathias; 10- Debinha (16- Emily Gray 89’); 8- Denise O’Sullivan; 7- Malia Berkely (25- Meredith Speck 80’); 15- Jaelene Daniels; 2- Taylor Smith; 9- Kerolin Ferraz (12- Diana Ordoñez 88’)

Unused Substitutes: 29 – Rylee Baisden; 33- Jordan Baucom; 44- Marisa Bova; 14- Kate Bowen; 13- Ryan Williams

WAS: 1- Aubrey Kingsbury; 30- Camryn Biegalski; 22- Amber Brooks; 4- Karina Rodriguez (13- Bayley Feist 60’); 5- Kelley O’Hara (14- Morgan Goff 27’); 6- Emily Sonnett; 16- Julia Roddar; 21- Anna Heilferty (11- Jordan Baggett 80’); 10- Ashley Sanchez; 2- Trinity Rodman; 33- Ashley Hatch

Unused Substitutes: 17 – Tinaya Alexander; 19- Dorian Bailey; 28- Nicole Barnhart; 18- Devon Kerr; 12- Andi Sullivan

Stats Summary: NCC / WAS

Shots: 17 / 14

Shots On Goal: 6 / 3

Saves: 4 / 0

Shots Blocked: 6 / 3

Fouls: 10 / 12

Offside: 2 / 2

Misconduct Summary: 

WAS – Karina Rodriguez – 19’ – Yellow Card

NCC – Abby Erceg – 37’ – Yellow Card

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