Recap: Spirit picks up three crucial road points on historic night in Houston

Washington Spirit  |   April 13, 2024

Houston, Texas (04/12/2024) – The Spirit defeated the Houston Dash, 3-1, after giving up a 1st-minute goal. Interim Head Coach Adrián González led the Spirit to victory in the first-ever all-Spanish head coaching matchup in NWSL history, and with a start in today’s match, Andi Sullivan earned her 100th career appearance with the Spirit. Sullivan joins Tori Huster (159), Aubrey Kingsbury (110) and Ashley Hatch (109) as the only players to reach that milestone with the club. 


The Spirit began the match with shades of the team’s season opener in Seattle after surrendering a 1st-minute goal to Houston. Former Spirit player Natalie Jacobs netted the icebreaker, her first of the season.  


In the 20th minute, Ashley Hatch launched into a great run and issued a rocket on goal, but it was stopped by Houston keeper Jane Campbell. Seconds later, Trinity Rodman tacked on another shot but was blocked by the Dash backline.  


Much of the first half, the Spirit faced struggles building out of the back and was unable to piece together possession-based attacks in Houston’s third of the field. Rodman, using her first-class speed and athleticism, instigated many of the Spirit’s chances at goal but nothing came of her efforts.  


Despite the momentum residing almost entirely with the Dash through the first 45 minutes, the Spirit finished with more touches in the opponent box (12), expected goals (.57) and six total shots.  


In an inverse of the first half, the Spirit struck and struck quickly. Hal Hershfelt netted an equalizer in the 52nd minute. 


Preceding the goal, the ball bounced from player to player – true chaos in the box – and Hershfelt executed on the open chance following an assist from Ouleye Sarr. The assist was Sarr’s second career NWSL assist, both coming in Houston.  


Hershfelt became the first rookie in Spirit history to score two or more goals in the first four matches of the season. The only other player to score two or more goals in their first four games with the Spirit was Diana Matheson in the NWSL’s inaugural year of 2013.  


Fast forward to the 82nd minute, and the top blew off the game. Brittany Ratcliffe, one of the Spirit’s free agent signees this offseason, sent a banger past Campbell for her first Spirit goal. Casey Krueger logged her first assist with the Spirit, while Ratcliffe’s goal was her seventh career regular season goal and second career regular season game-winning goal.  


Two minutes later, Gabby Carle crossed in a perfectly placed ball that Croix Bethune tapped home. History repeated itself: Bethune, who scored in the same match as Hershfelt in the team’s home opener on March 23, joined Hershfelt as the only Spirit rookies to score multiple goals in the first four games of their Spirit careers. The goal also marked Carle’s first assist of the season and second of her NWSL career. 


The Spirit has now won three straight matches for the first time since 2021 and earned the club’s first three-game regular season win streak since the last two games of 2021 and first of 2022. The Spirit also beat Houston by multiple goals on the road for the first time in team history and the first time since a 2-0 home victory in June 2017. 


Next up, the Spirit heads home to Audi Field where the team will take on defending NWSL Champion Gotham FC at 1 p.m. EDT on Saturday, April 20. The Spirit will celebrate Kicking Women’s Cancer Day presented by Inova in a Black Out of Audi Field. Tickets can be found here.   


-NWSL Match Report- 

Match: Houston Dash vs. Washington Spirit  

Date: Friday, April 12, 2024 

Venue: Shell Energy Stadium (Houston, Texas) 

Kickoff: 8:00 p.m. EDT  

Weather: Sunny, high-60s 


Scoring Summary: 

Goals  1  2  F 
Houston  1  0  1 
Washington  0  3  3 

HOU – Natalie Jacobs – 1’ (assisted by Sarah Puntigam) 

WAS – Hal Hershfelt – 52’ (assisted by Ouleye Sarr) 

WAS – Brittany Ratcliffe – 83’ (assisted by Casey Krueger) 

WAS – Croix Bethune – 84’ (assisted by Gabby Carle) 



HOU: 1 – Jane Campbell; 17 – Sarah Puntigam; 13 – Sophie Schmidt; 4 – Natalie Jacobs (8 – Courtney Petersen, 45’+3’); 31 – Elin Rubensson; 7 – Maria Sánchez; 30 – Avery Patterson (12 – Kiki van Zanten, 78’); 10 – Andressa (11 – Michelle Alozie, 63’); 14 – Yuki Nagasato (6 – Havana Solaun, 56’); 16 – Amanda West (5 – Cece Kizer, 78’); 9 – Diana Ordóñez 

 Unused Substitutes: 99 – Emily Alvarado; 19 – Belle Briede; 33 – Jyllissa Harris; 20 – Sophie Hirst 


WAS: 1 – Aubrey Kingsbury; 3 – Casey Krueger; 5 – Annaïg Butel; 9 – Tara McKeown; 14 – Gabby Carle; 7 – Croix Bethune (39 – Chloe Ricketts, 90’); 12 – Andi Sullivan (26 – Paige Metayer, 73’); 17 – Hal Hershfelt; 33 – Ashley Hatch (16 – Courtney Brown, 65’); 11 – Ouleye Sarr (13 – Brittany Ratcliffe, 73’); 2 – Trinity Rodman (4 – Lena Silano, 90’) 

 Unused Substitutes: 18 – Lyza Bosselmann; 21 – Anna Heilferty; 22 – Heather Stainbrook 


Stats Summary: HOU / WAS 

Shots: 9 / 12 

Shots On Goal: 2 / 7 

Shots Blocked: 4 / 3 

Saves: 4 / 1 

Tackles Won: 12 / 17 

Fouls: 13 / 6 

Offsides: 2 / 2 


Misconduct Summary: 

WAS – Croix Bethune – 24’ – Yellow Card 

HOU – Elin Rubensson – 77’ – Yellow Card 

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