1495 Sports is proud to bring the following Washington Spirit Press Conference. After the team’s 1-1 tie with the Orlando Pride in NWSL action on 5/16. Featuring thoughts from Spirit Head Coach Richie Burke along with stars Ashley Hatch and Andi Sullivan.
The Washington Spirit tied their first match of the 2021 NWSL regular season on Sunday night at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, FL, 1–1.
It was a rematch from April 21, a game in which Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris stonewalled the Spirit with nine saves. Harris was busy again tonight. Within 10 minutes, Trinity Rodman received a Tori Huster pass at the top of the 18, made a cut to win herself an acre of space, but the young forward’s shot was sent away by Harris’s left foot.
Orlando countered with Alex Morgan, who managed a shot on target before being flagged for an offside infraction. In the 14’, Morgan stayed onside and played a cross into the box. Taylor Kornieck — the third overall pick in the 2020 NWSL draft — whiffed on the ensuing chance. Moments later, Kornieck found Sydney Leroux behind the defense, but a tight angle led to a wide shot.
Picking up where she left off in the Challenge Cup, Rodman was in on goal courtesy of a through ball from Ashley Sanchez, but the second overall pick in the most recent draft arced her shot over the net.
Known for her acumen in front of net, Morgan put in a strong but clean tackle to win the ball, a move that led to Leroux charging at Washington’s net and ripping a shot well wide of Aubrey Bledsoe in goal. After half an hour played, Saori Takarada found Rodman up the field, which gave the Spirit a corner. On the stroke of halftime, Takarada found Kelley O’Hara at the back post, but Washington’s left back hit the side netting.
The beginning of the second half belonged to the Pride; Marta hit a long ball from half field to Leroux, who just touched her shot wide. The Spirit punched back with Sanchez, who had her defender slipping inside the 18. Sanchez then sent a shot into the body of Harris.
Orlando left back Courtney Petersen found Leroux on the wing, with the result being Morgan wide open in front of goal. Thankfully for Washington, she paced the ball over the frame. Going the other way, Emily Sonnett almost found herself unmarked inside Orlando’s 18.
There was cause for celebration in the 71’, as Jordan DiBiasi, who had surgery this offseason, returned to the field for the first time in over a year for the Spirit, coming on for Dorian Bailey in midfield. The breakthrough finally came in the 76’. Sanchez turned away from her defender and played a ball out to the right wing where Huster was lying in wait. The right back then curved a pass into the box, and Hatch got a head on the ball to angle it past Harris.
Any festivities were short-lived; Morgan got on the end of a long ball that sliced through Washington’s center backs, and she looped a shot, which Bledsoe got a touch to. And despite Paige Nielsen’s valiant effort to clear it off the line, the ball eased its way into the net. After an entertaining 90 minutes, the affair ended with the teams tied at one apiece.
For their next league fixture, the Spirit will face Racing Louisville FC on Friday, May 21 at 7:30 pm ET at Lynn Family Stadium and will be broadcast live on Paramount+ (USA) and Twitch (INT).
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