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Cary, NC (04/14/2023) – The Washington Spirit will face the North Carolina Courage Saturday night in both club’s third game of the season. The match kicks off at 7 p.m. EDT at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina and will broadcast on Paramount+ for fans across the United States. International viewers can stream the match on NWSLSoccer.com as well.
The Spirit enters Saturday’s match looking to defeat the North Carolina Courage for the first time since it took the side down in a 2021 NWSL quarterfinal match, 1-0 after extra time. Last season, the Spirit went winless in all five matchups against the Courage – 0-2-3, including a loss in the Challenge Cup Final. The Spirit was outscored 10-12 in those matchups against the Courage, with forwards Ashley Hatch (5) and Trinity Rodman (3) accounting for eight of the goals.
The last match between the two sides – and the Spirit’s most recent trip to Cary – resulted in a 3-3 draw in which Rodman netted a brace. The Spirit is still in search of its first road victory since November 2021 when the team defeated OL Reign in a 2021 NWSL semifinal, having drawn or lost each of its last 16 matches as the visiting side.
The Spirit opened the season with four points (W1, D1) in its first two regular season matches, the team’s best opening of a season since winning the first two matches in the 2016 season. That season is the only time Washington has won three consecutive matches to start a season.
First-year midfielder Paige Metayer, an undrafted midfielder who signed a three-year contract earlier this year, was inserted into the Starting XI to start the season but will be absent after obtaining two yellow cards in the final ten minutes of the Spirit’s April 1 match in Louisville.
During the team’s lone three-match away stretch last season, the Spirit drew all three matches: 1-1 against Portland Thorns FC, 0-0 against OL Reign and 2-2 against the Orlando Pride during the first month of the regular season.
Hatch is tied with dynamic North Carolina forward Kerolin for the second-most shots on goal (4) thus far in the NWSL regular season. After scoring the Spirit’s only two goals against Racing Louisville FC two weeks ago, she passed Crystal Dunn (4) for the most multi-goal matches in club history. Additionally, Hatch is one of seven Spirit players returning from international duty. Gabrielle Carle (CAN), Hatch (USA), Rodman (USA), Ashley Sanchez (USA), Marissa Sheva (IRE), Andi Sullivan (USA) and Riley Tanner (PAN) all competed for their respective international teams during this month’s FIFA window.
Following Saturday afternoon’s match, the Spirit will travel to Harrison, New Jersey for its third consecutive road match and first 2023 UKG NWSL Challenge Cup match, facing off against NJ/NY Gotham FC on Wednesday, April 19. Saturday’s contest against North Carolina will kickstart a stretch of four matches in two weeks – April 19 (at NJ/NY Gotham FC), April 22 (vs Houston Dash), and April 29 (at Chicago Red Stars).
The North Carolina Courage looks to add to its lead of the all-time series history between the two sides, as it currently holds a record of 12-4-4, winning seven of nine matches played in Cary.
The Courage finished the 2022 campaign with three consecutive clean sheets and began the 2023 season in similar fashion, defeating last year’s runner-up Kansas City Current 1-0. Those four straight regular season shoutouts were one shy of an NWSL record, which has happened twice: the Courage did so in previously in 2021 and OL Reign did so in 2016.
With many new faces, Courage Head Coach Sean Nahas, has already inserted five players into game action who made their NWSL debuts this season. Brazilian forward Kerolin, in her second season with the Courage, is tied for second in the NWSL with seven shots, trailing only Sophia Smith (POR) – the 2022 NWSL MVP.
In its most recent fixture, the Courage was handily defeated, 1-3, by San Diego Wave FC at Snapdragon Stadium. The Courage conceded two goals before getting on the board. This is something the Spirit will look to convert on, as the Courage has now gone winless in 17 straight matches when opponents score first. Last season, the Courage finished seventh in the NWSL table, trailing Chicago by one point for the final playoff spot.
The Courage will embark on a three-game road trip following tomorrow’s match, beginning in Orlando on April 19. The side will then travel to face NJ/NY Gotham FC and the Houston Dash.