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Washington, D.C. (06/14/2023) – The Washington Spirit fell to the North Carolina Courage, 1-2, on a Courage goal in the third minute of second half stoppage time.
Starting at defender in tonight’s match, Riley Tanner made her first career NWSL start. Veteran goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart also started in tonight’s match wearing the captain’s armband, her first start since July 2021. The start elevates Barnhart above Ashlyn Harris for the second-most matches played (all competitions) by a goalkeeper in NWSL history (151). With a start from 16-year-old Chole Ricketts, Barnhart and Ricketts established the biggest age gap (25 years, 7 months, 13 days) between starting players in NWSL history. For context, there are more than 150 players in the NWSL younger than the age gap between Barnhart and Ricketts.
The Spirit established command of the game early, logging four shots in the first ten minutes of game action. In that time, the Courage did not register a single shot. In the fourth minute, Courage keeper Katelyn Rowland misfired a clearance inside the box that was intercepted by Lena Silano and redirected at goal. Later, Silano would set up Marissa Sheva outside the box for a bomb reminiscent of her Challenge Cup goal earlier this season. The shot would go just over the crossbar.
The Courage finished the first half without a shot inside the box– the first time the Spirit held a team to zero first half shots inside the box in Challenge Cup history. The Spirit finished with eight shots (five inside the box) and 13 touches inside the opponent box, but there were no goals scored.
After a snake-bit season with multiple shots on goal that nearly found the back of the net, Tara McKeown, who was subbed in at halftime for Sam Staab, broke the stalemate with a header off service from Silano. The goal was McKeown’s fifth career goal (all competitions) and first career Challenge Cup goal, while it was Silano’s first professional assist. Silano joins Ashley Hatch, Trinity Rodman, Ashley Sanchez and Andi Sullivan as the only Spirit players with a goal and an assist in their Challenge Cup careers.
Tara McKeown breaks the deadlock with a perfectly placed header! pic.twitter.com/eqVJKcONQr
— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) June 15, 2023
Following the goal, the Courage made two substitutions and increased its offensive intensity. When the Spirit subbed Ricketts for Inès Jaurena in the 62nd, the Courage capitalized immediately after with an opportunistic throw in and through ball that set up Brittany Ratcliffe for a goal at a tricky angle, tying the game at one apiece.
With the game tied up, both teams jockeyed for a go-ahead goal for the better part of 30 minutes. Both teams utilized all five substitutions, replacing players for fresh legs off the bench. After the Courage goal, the Spirit outshot North Carolina five to one but couldn’t find the back of the net. Sanchez subbed in for Nicole Douglas marking Sanchez’s 20th Challenge Cup appearance. She has played in every Spirit Challenge Cup game.
In the second minute of second half stoppage time, the Courage iced the game with a goal from Olivia Wingate. The 92nd-minute game-winner was set up by a run from Kerolin before she found Haley Hopkins in the box, who redirected the ball to the opposite post to Wingate.
The loss was the Spirit’s first Challenge Cup loss at Audi Field, and the first loss at home this season (all competitions). North Carolina continues its hold on the all-time Challenge Cup series, having never been defeated by the Spirit in Challenge Cup history.
The Spirit go wheels up, traveling to Kansas City for its third match in eight days. The regular season match against the Kansas City Current will kick off at 7 p.m. EDT on Sunday, June 18.
-NWSL Match Report-
Match: Washington Spirit vs. North Carolina Courage
Date: June 14, 2023
Venue: Audi Field
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. EDT
Weather: Sunny, low-70s
WAS – Tara McKeown – 54’
NC – Brittany Ratcliffe – 62’
NC – Olivia Wingate – 90+2’
WAS: 28- Nicole Barnhart; 27- Riley Tanner (14- Gabrielle Carle – 82’); 3- Sam Staab (9- Tara McKeown – 46’); 22- Amber Brooks; 30- Camryn Biegalski; 7- Inès Jaurena (26- Paige Metayer – 61’); 25- Marissa Sheva; 39- Chloe Ricketts (19- Dorian Bailey – 46’); 24- Lena Silano; 17- Nicole Douglas (10- Ashley Sanchez – 75’); 20- Civana Kuhlmann
Unused Substitutes: 18- Lyza Bosselmann; 33- Ashley Hatch; 1- Aubrey Kingsbury
NC: 0- Katelyn Rowland; 7- Malia Berkely; 13- Ryan Williams; 3- Kaleigh Kurtz (20- Olivia Wingate – 76’); 23- Kiki Pickett (18- Sydney Collins – 57’); 19- Frankie Tagliaferri (5- Haley Hopkins – 86’); 8- Brianna Pinto (Narumi Miura; – 57’) 25- Meredith Speck; 14- Tyler Lussi; 11- Brittany Ratcliffe; 17- Rikke Madsen (9- Kerolin Nicoli – 76’)
Unused Substitutes: 28- Tess Boade; 44- Marisa Bova; 29- Millie Farrow; 10- Denise O’Sullivan
Stats Summary: WAS / NC
Shots: 16 / 9
Shots On Goal: 4 / 5
Blocked Shots: 7 / 0
Saves: 3 / 2
Tackles Won: 7 / 4
Fouls: 7 / 9
Offsides: 0 / 0
WAS – Cam Biegalski – 70’ – Yellow Card