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Cary, N.C. (07/22/2023) – The Washington Spirit was defeated, 0-6, by the North Carolina Courage in the team’s fourth UKG NWSL Challenge Cup match of the 2023 season.
Included on the roster today, midfielders Tori Huster and Bayley Feist were both activated off the injury list. Huster, who has played with the Spirit since the NWSL’s inception in 2013, has not played in a match for the Spirit since suffering a serious lower leg injury late in the 2021 season. Feist was activated after sustaining an injury in training earlier this season. Today marks the first time Huster and Feist have been on a game roster together since the 2020 Fall Series.
The first shot of the game came in the 9th minute off the foot of Ashley Hatch – she entered the match with nine goals against her former team, two more than the next-closest player (Sam Kerr – 7). That said, the Spirit withstood a number of Courage attacks within the first 20 minutes, but the Spirit backline held strong.
In the 26th, Inès Jaurena received a yellow card after arresting the progress of a charging Briana Pinto. She entered the match with an accumulation warning and will subsequently miss the team’s next Challenge Cup match against NJ/NY Gotham FC.
The Spirit, who rarely possessed the ball in the first half, relied on counter attacks from Hatch as well as corner kicks. Two Spirit corners came in the 32nd and 33rd respectively, with the first leading to a Tara McKeown header that hit the woodwork and was later called offside.
In typical fashion, the Courage dominated possession. Leading the NWSL in possession entering the match, the Courage controlled over 70% of possession. The Courage also recorded 327 passes to the Spirit’s 150 – the 172 pass differential a greater number than the Spirit’s total passes.
The first half finished in a 0-0 draw, the first time since August 3, 2019 that the two teams have been scoreless at the half in North Carolina. On that date, the Challenge Cup didn’t exist. Additionally, this marks the second match in NWSL Challenge Cup history without a first half shot on goal.
The first shot on goal came 12 minutes into the second half when Lena Silano rocketed a shot at goal that was stopped by Courage keeper Katelyn Rowland.
The scoring drought broke – and broke quickly – beginning in the 61st when Brittany Ratcliffe displayed beautiful footwork inside the box to create space and send the ball through to the back of the net. Four minutes later, Frankie Tagliaferri added another for the Courage – the first NWSL goal of her career. In the 70th, Olivia Wingate sent a third through the back of the net and Tess Boade added insult to injury with a fourth Courage goal in the 72nd.
Sadly for the Spirit, the damage did not stop there. The Courage added a fifth goal in the 80th off a world-class volley from Brianna Pinto. That goal, coming off corner service, set a new record for the most goals scored in a single match by one team in a Challenge Cup match. Narumi added a sixth goal three minutes later. The six goals, coming from six different players, set a new NWSL record (all competitions) for the most goals scored in a single half, accomplished in only 22 minutes.
Returning home to Audi Field for the first match on its home turf since July 1, the Spirit will take on NJ/NY Gotham FC in a 2023 UKG NWSL Challenge Cup match on Friday, July 28 at 7 p.m. Tickets are available here.
-NWSL Match Report-
Match: North Carolina Courage vs. Washington Spirit
Date: July 22, 2023
Venue: WakeMed Soccer Park
Kickoff: 7:00 p.m. EDT
Weather: Sunny, low-80s
NC – Brittany Ratcliffe – 61’
NC – Frankie Tagliaferri – 65’
NC – Olivia Wingate – 70’
NC – Tess Boade – 72’
NC – Brianna Pinto – 80’
NC – Narumi Miura – 83’
NC: 98- Katelyn Rowland; 23- Kiki Pickett (18- Sydney Collins, 75’); 7- Malia Berkely; 3- Kaleigh Kurtz; 13- Ryan Williams; 8- Brianna Pinto; 6- Narumi Miura; 11- Brittany Ratcliffe (20- Olivia Wingate, 68’); 19- Frankie Tagliaferri (99- Victoria Pickett, 68’); 14- Tyler Lussi (5- Haley Hopkins, 75’); 28- Tess Boade (29- Millie Farrow, 81’)
Unused Substitutes: 44- Marisa Bova; 2- Sarah Clark; 24- Estelle Johnson; 21- Nikia Smith
WAS: 28- Nicole Barnhart; 19- Dorian Bailey; 3- Sam Staab; 9- Tara McKeown; 30- Camryn Biegalski (16- Maddie Elwell, 62’); 26- Paige Metayer; 7- Inès Jaurena; 22- Amber Brooks (37- Jordan Thompson, 84’); 39- Chloe Ricketts (17- Nicole Douglas, 62’); 33- Ashley Hatch; 24- Lena Silano (36- Mariana Speckmaier, 62’)
Unused Substitutes: 18- Lyza Bosselmann; 13- Bayley Feist; 23- Tori Huster
Stats Summary: NC / WAS
Shots: 16 / 12
Shots On Goal: 9 / 1
Shots Blocked: 3 / 3
Saves: 1 / 3
Tackles Won: 9 / 6
Fouls: 7 / 15
Offsides: 1 / 1
WAS – Inès Jaurena – 26’
WAS – Sam Staab – 63’
NC – Haley Hopkins – 82’
WAS – Paige Metayer – 87’