Recap: Spirit Earns Three Points Off Late Goal in Stunning Defensive Performance

Washington Spirit  |   August 4, 2023
Recap: Spirit Earns Three Points Off Late Goal in Stunning Defensive Performance Featured Image



Orlando, Fla. (08/04/2023) – The Washington Spirit stunned the Orlando Pride, 1-0, after a stoppage time winner from Mariana Speckmaier in the team’s final UKG NWSL Challenge Cup match of the season. Goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart also notched her 56th career clean sheet across all competitions, stopping all seven Pride shots on target.


With a start in today’s match, captain Ashley Hatch logged her 21st Challenge Cup appearance, passing Ashley Sanchez for the most in the team’s history. Jordan Thompson, who signed as a national team replacement (NTR) player in June, made the start at defender – her first career NWSL start (any competition).


Through the first 20 minutes of action, the Spirit was unable to register a shot despite taking three corner services. In that same time, the Pride issued five shots, two of which were on goal and required solid goaltending from Barnhart to keep the Pride off the scoreboard.


The first half was largely uneventful with both teams playing to a 0-0 draw without any truly threatening scoring chances taking place. The Pride dominated that stat sheet, though, with 12 shots, eight of which came from inside the box. The Spirit didn’t muster a single shot on goal.


The Spirit and Orlando have played 12 times since the start of the 2021 season. Today marks the sixth time that the score is 0-0 at the half.


Out of the half, the Pride peppered the Spirit with shots – to the tune of five shots in less than two minutes, four of which were on goal. While Barnhart held her own in goal, the Spirit had luck on its side as well. In the 60th minute, Messiah Bright headed a ball that ricocheted off of Barnhart’s glove, onto the left corner of the post, and was subsequently kicked away by Dorian Bailey inches before it crossed the goal line.


The Spirit used all five of its substitutions over the course the last third of the match, bringing Speckmaier on to relieve forward Ashley Hatch as well as defender Annaïg Butel on in her NWSL debut. In the 85th, Camryn Biegalski tallied the Spirit’s first shot on target of the night with a header that was saved by Pride keeper Anna Moorhouse, ending the Orlando defending third’s unblemished performance.


Ten minutes of stoppage time were added, and Orlando was able to notch a few more shot attempts before the Spirit broke through in the eighth minute of added time. Barnhart sent a goal kick to the Pride’s defensive half that was corralled by Speckmaier after a battle with an Orlando player. Speckmaier found space and began a break toward the Pride box and, noticing Moorhouse playing high in the box, ripped a shot from roughly 30 yards out and found the back of the net for the late 1-0 lead. After a short review that would leave the goal to stand, the visiting Spirit was able to run out the last few minutes of stoppage time and secure its second-ever victory at Exploria Stadium.


The Spirit finish the 2023 UKG NWSL Challenge Cup with a 3-3-0 (9 points) record. Next, the Spirit will receive a well-deserved week off from competition before travelling to Houston to play the Dash on Saturday, August 19 at 8:30 p.m. EDT.


-NWSL Match Report-

Match: Orlando Pride vs. Washington Spirit

Date: August 4, 2023

Venue: Exploria Stadium

Kickoff: 7:00 p.m. EDT

Weather: Sunny, low-80s


Scoring Summary:

Goals 1 2 F
Orlando 0 0 0
Washington 0 1 1

WAS – Mariana Speckmaier – 90’+8’



ORL: 21- Anna Moorhouse; 3- Kylie Strom (2- Haley McCutcheon, 56’); 26- Caitlin Cosme; 6- Emily Madril; 32- Brianna Martínez; 25- Kerry Abello; 19- Jordyn Listro; 28- Summer Yates (36- Maliah Morris, 78’); 20- Julie Doyle (15- Erika Tymrak, 68’); 11- Ally Watt (23- Messiah Bright, 46’); 8- Mikayla Cluff (14- Viviana Villacorta, 67’)

Unused Substitutes: 29- Amanda Allen; 22- Tori Hansen; 5- Megan Montefusco; 31- Carly Nelson


WAS: 28- Nicole Barnhart; 19- Dorian Bailey (5- Annaïg Butel, 83’); 3- Sam Staab; 37- Jordan Thompson; 22- Amber Brooks; 30- Camryn Biegalski; 39- Chloe Ricketts (23- Tori Huster, 68’); 26- Paige Metayer (17- Nicole Douglas, 68’); 16- Maddie Elwell; 24- Lena Silano (13- Bayley Feist, 87’); 33- Ashley Hatch (36- Mariana Speckmaier, 83’)

Unused Substitutes: 18- Lyza Bosselmann


Stats Summary: ORL / WAS

Shots: 25 / 7

Shots On Goal: 7 / 2

Shots Blocked: 9 / 3

Saves: 1 / 7

Tackles Won: 11 / 13

Fouls: 8 / 10

Offsides: 1 / 0


Misconduct Summary:

WAS – Tori Huster – 88’

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