Recap: Spirit prevails, 4-2, in comeback victory versus Gotham FC

Washington Spirit  |   July 29, 2023
Recap: Spirit prevails, 4-2, in comeback victory versus Gotham FC Featured Image


Washington, D.C. (07/28/2023) – The Washington Spirit defeated NJ/NY Gotham FC, 4-2, in the team’s first match at Audi Field in nearly a month. After falling down 0-2 early, the Spirit scored four unanswered, bolstered by a brace from Ashley Hatch. Camryn Biegalski and Chloe Ricketts also added their first-ever NWSL goals to help secure the victory.


Things did not begin as planned for the Spirit, facing an early deficit when Midge Purce buried a ball in the back of the net in the 4th minute. Purce was set up off a shot on target from Delanie Sheehan that deflected off of Spirit keeper Nicole Barnhart and back into play.


In the same amount of time, the team added another. Jenna Nighswonger delivered a world-class header that swung past an outstretched Barnhart in the 8th minute. The goal marked the ninth consecutive goal the Spirit had allowed in the last three matches (all competitions) without scoring one of its own. The last time the Spirit surrendered two goals quicker came on July 2, 2014 versus Boston; however, the Spirit would later draw 2-2 in that match.


In the 26th minute, captain Ashley Hatch cut the deficit in half after capitalizing on a breakaway goal. The goal was Hatch’s eighth in Challenge Cup history, good for third all-time.



Lena Silano assisted on the goal – her second of this year’s Challenge Cup. Silano is now the third Spirit player to ever have multiple assists in a single Challenge Cup, joining Trinity Rodman and Kelley O’Hara.


Despite the trio of goals, the most notable part of the first half was characterized by inaction – the game was suspended in the 43rd minute due to severe weather. Both teams were removed from the pitch for over an hour before returning and finishing the first half. Sam Staab nearly knotted the score in first half stoppage time off a free kick from well outside the box that hit the woodwork reminiscent of her free kick goal against Orlando earlier this season.


Minutes into the second half, however, Camryn Biegalski was able to equalize things at two goals apiece. Amber Brooks placed the ball and Biegalski did the rest. It was Biegalski’s first career NWSL goal (any competition). Brooks’ assist was her first (any competition) since July 2, 2017.



The Spirit’s pressure did not stop – Hatch logged the 24th brace in team history with a go-ahead goal in the 63rd minute. The brace marks Hatch’s ninth career Challenge Cup goal.


Hatch threatened a hat trick a number of times following her 63rd-minute score, but she would find herself on the stat sheet with an assist when she set up the Spirit’s fourth goal of the match in the 70th minute.


Hatch fed Chloe Ricketts with a perfect through ball and Ricketts finished the trick – her first career NWSL goal (any competition). With the goal, Ricketts became the youngest goal scorer in NWSL history, passing Portland’s Olivia Moultrie.



Hatch becomes the second player in Challenge Cup history – and Spirit team history (all competitions) – to record two goals and one assist in a game.


The Spirit is now 2-3-0 (6 points) in UKG NWSL Challenge Cup games this season, keeping the team statistically eligible for East Division Champion honors. Next, the Spirit travels to Orlando to face the Pride on Friday, August 4th at 7 p.m. EDT.


-NWSL Match Report-

Match: Washington Spirit vs. NJ/NY Gotham FC

Date: July 28, 2023

Venue: Audi Field

Kickoff: 7:00 p.m. EDT

Weather: Sunny, low-89s


Scoring Summary:

Goals 1 2 F
Washington 1 3 4
Gotham 2 0 2

NJ/NY – Midge Purce – 4’

NJ/NY – Jenna Nighswonger – 8’

WAS – Ashley Hatch – 26’

WAS – Camryn Biegalski – 55’

WAS – Ashley Hatch – 63’

WAS – Chloe Ricketts – 70’



WAS: 28- Nicole Barnhart; 19- Dorian Bailey (37- Jordan Thompson, 90’); 3- Sam Staab; 9- Tara McKeown (23- Tori Huster, 76’); 22- Amber Brooks; 30- Camryn Biegalski; 39- Chloe Ricketts (17- Nicole Douglas, 76’); 26- Paige Metayer; 16- Maddie Elwell; 24- Lena Silano (13- Bayley Feist, 85’); 33- Ashley Hatch (36- Mariana Speckmaier, 76’)

Unused Substitutes: 18- Lyza Bosselmann; 5- Annaïg Butel; 8- Ouleymata Sarr

NJ/NY: 1- Michelle Betos; 11- Ali Krieger; 12- Kristen Edmonds (20- Taylor Smith, 76’); 21- Ellie Jean (22- Mandy Freeman, 69’); 6- Allie Long (14- Nealy Martin, 76’); 7- McCall Zerboni (13- Mana Shim, 68’); 17- Delanie Sheehan; 18- Yazmeen Ryan (30- Cyera Hintzen, 86’); 23- Margaret Purce; 28- Katie Stengel; 32- Jenna Nighswonger

Unused Substitutes: 4- Abby Smith; 15- Sabrina Flores; 24- Mandy Haught; 27- Annika Creel


Stats Summary: WAS / NJ/NY

Shots: 9 / 12

Shots On Goal: 5 / 5

Shots Blocked: 0 / 3

Saves: 3 / 0

Tackles Won: 12 / 7

Fouls: 12 / 11

Offsides: 2 / 1


Misconduct Summary:

NJ/NY – McCall Zerboni – 45’+3’

WAS – Amber Brooks – 49’

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