Spirit Enters Knockout Stage As Guest In Its Own Home

Washington Spirit  |   May 3, 2022
Spirit Enters Knockout Stage As Guest In Its Own Home Featured Image

May 1, 2022; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Washington Spirit forward Ashley Hatch (33) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against OL Reign at Audi Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Washington, D.C. (05/03/22) – The Washington Spirit will face OL Reign on Wednesday night in a 2022 Challenge Cup semifinal match at 8:00 p.m. EST at Audi Field. The match will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network for fans in the United States and on Twitch for international viewers. The two sides faced one another just two days ago on Sunday, May 1 in both teams’ regular season opener. While this match will be played in the nation’s capital, OL Reign will be the designated home team as the one-seed in the knockout stage.

The Opposition

Despite going undefeated in its six Challenge Cup matches and racking up a league-best 14 points, OL Reign is coming off a season opening loss to the Spirit. Ashley Sanchez and Ashley Hatch both found the back of the net against the Reign’s Phallon Tullis-Joyce in the 2-1 victory for Washington. The Reign’s lone goal came on a Rose Lavelle putback off the gloves of Aubrey Kingsbury. Lavelle also had a penalty kick chance in the ninth minute of play that was saved by Kingsbury.

The high-powered Reign only managed to put three shots on goal in the opening 90 of the year, forcing the Spirit’s reigning league goalkeeper of the year to make only two saves to secure the win. The Reign attacking third will need more attempts from its core of Rose Lavelle and Bethany Balcer to have a chance at advancing to and hosting the preseason tournament final.

The Spirit

After handing the Reign its first loss since last season’s semifinal match in Tacoma, the Spirit will look to keep up its good fortune against the NWSL’s northernmost club. Washington will have a unique opportunity on Wednesday night as it gets to play in its home stadium as the lower seed. The Spirit has proven tough to beat at Audi Field, compiling an undefeated 7-0-4 all-time record in competitions at the Navy Yard facility.

In Sunday’s match, 2021 Golden Boot winner Ashley Hatch picked up right where she left off last season, scoring on a game-winning header in the 66th minute of action while 2021 Goalkeeper of the Year Aubrey Kingsbury made an electrifying penalty save on Reign star Rose Lavelle. Second-year player Anna Heilferty also tallied her first career assist on Sunday.

Andi Sullivan remains questionable with a calf injury while Tara McKeown (foot), Gaby Vincent (calf) and Averie Collins (knee) are officially listed as out for the semifinal match. With a win on Wednesday night, the Spirit will travel to either Kansas City, Kansas or Cary, North Carolina to compete for the 2022 Challenge Cup title while a loss will have Washington traveling to Bridgeview, Illinois for a rematch of last year’s championship game.

About The Washington Spirit

The Washington Spirit is the professional women’s soccer team based at Segra Field in Leesburg, Va and Audi Field in Washington, D.C. Launched in 2012, the Spirit play in the National Women’s Soccer League, the premier women’s soccer competition in North America. For more information about the Spirit, visit www.WashingtonSpirit.com, follow the club on Twitter @WashSpirit and on Facebook at facebook.com/washingtonspirit.

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