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Cary, NC (04/15/2023) – The Washington Spirit immediately applied offensive pressure to start its third regular season match of the season, opening up scoring in the sixth minute. Forward Trinity Rodman intercepted a pass at the top of the box, dribbled left to right before drilling an upper 90 goal, her second of the season and 12th of her career.
Coming into the game, the Courage had recorded clean sheets in four of its last five matches. Additionally, the Courage were winless in its last 17 matches entering today in which their opponents score first.
Later, center back Tara McKeown was downed in the 26’ after a collision but would return to the match shortly after. Ashley Hatch continued the pressure with a header aimed at goal that was neutralized by Courage keeper and USWNT member Casey Murphy. McKeown flicked a header of her own off an Andi Sullivan corner minutes later that trailed off just wide of goal.
Despite Spirit pressure much of the first half, the Courage tied the score, 1-1, off a penalty kick by Kerolin. The Courage were awarded the penalty kick because of a handball by McKeown inside the box. Sullivan was subsequently awarded a yellow card after the ruling for dissent.
Kerolin stutter-stepped and drove her penalty kick attempt into the bottom left corner of the goal, just past the outstretched glove of Aubrey Kingsbury. This continues the trend of Brazilian talent in North Carolina as 14 of the Courage’s last 19 (73.6%) goals have been scored by Brazilians – Kerolin (7) and Debinha (7).
It didn’t take long after half for the Spirit to reestablish control of the game. Hatch was grounded by Courage defender Emily Fox inside the box, earning a Spirit penalty kick. After a short VAR check, Hatch buried the penalty kick, her 40th career goal and third this season (T-2nd in the NWSL). Hatch has now scored in six of the last seven games against her former club.
Later, Rodman was downed after catching a ball in the side of the head. She was attended to and shortly returned to play.
In the 66’, the Spirit substituted Marissa Sheva and Gabrielle Carle for Chloe Ricketts and Amber Brooks, respectively. Ricketts, 15, the second-youngest player in the NWSL, made the first appearance of her career.
What followed was largely a chippy, defensive battle with both sides trying to capitalize on opportunities to no avail. The defensive struggle saw three yellow cards assessed in less than 15 minutes.
Four minutes into a 10-minute stoppage time period, Ricketts sent a long pass downfield to Rodman who returned the ball back to a streaking Ricketts. She then sent a would-be goal just wide of goal. For nearly all of the extended stoppage time period, the Spirit defended countless Courage attempts on goal but allowed no goals, sealing the victory.
Despite going winless versus the Courage last season and entering this match with a 1-6-2 all-time record at WakeMed Soccer Park, the Spirit earn a crucial three points. This marks the second time in franchise history (2016) that the Spirit have started the season unbeaten through three games. After the conclusion of the 7:00 EDT matches, the Spirit are tied for the most points (7) in the NWSL.
Up next, Washington will travel to New Jersey to face NJ/NY Gotham FC on Wednesday April 19th, the second of three matches within seven days for the Spirit.
-NWSL Match Report-
Match: North Carolina Courage vs Washington Spirit
Date: April 15, 2023
Venue: WakeMed Soccer Park
Kickoff: 7:00 p.m. ET
Weather: Sunny, low-70s
WAS – Trinity Rodman – 6’
NC – Kerolin – 43’ (PK)
WAS – Ashley Hatch – 50’ (PK)
NC: 1- Casey Murphy; 12- Emily Fox; 3- Kaleigh Kurtz; 13- Ryan Williams; 23- Kiki Pickett; 10- Denise O’Sullivan; 6- Narumi Miura (11- Brittany Ratcliffe – 87’); 8- Brianna Pinto (29- Millie Farrow – 87’); 22- Mille Gejl (14- Tyler Lussi – 62’); 9- Kerolin Nicoli; 5- Haley Hopkins (17- Rikki Madsen 71’)
Unused Substitutes: 18- Sydney Collins; 25- Meredith Speck; 7- Malia Berkley; 26- Clara Robbins; 0- Katelyn Rowland
WAS: 1- Aubrey Kingsbury; 14- Gabrielle Carle (22- Amber Brooks 65’); 3- Sam Staab; 9- Tara McKeown; 19- Dorian Bailey; 25- Marissa Sheva (39- Chloe Ricketts 66’); 12- Andi Sullivan; 7- Inès Jaurena (11- Jordan Baggett – 90+3’); 33- Ashley Hatch (20- Civana Kuhlmann 80’); 10- Ashley Sanchez; 2- Trinity Rodman
Unused Substitutes: 28- Nicole Barnhart; 18- Lyza Bosselmann; 17- Nicole Douglas; 16- Maddie Elwell; 24- Lena Silano
Stats Summary: NC / WAS
Shots: 13 / 5
Shots On Goal: 1 / 3
Blocked Shots: 7 / 0
Saves: 1 / 0
Tackles Won: 4 / 6
Fouls: 6 / 6
Offsides: 2 / 2
WAS – Andi Sullivan – 41’ – Yellow Card
NC – Bench – 52’ – Yellow Card
NC – Tyler Lussi – 69’ – Yellow Card
WAS – Trinity Rodman – 78’ – Yellow Card
NC – Brianna Pinto – 81’ – Yellow Card