The Washington Spirit drew a tie with the North Carolina Courage in their sixteenth match of the 2021 NWSL regular season this evening, 0-0.
The Spirit wasted no time applying offensive pressure. Within the first several minutes of play, numerous attempts at goal were made, including a near goal by Ashley Hatch whose shot inside the box was smothered by Courage goalkeeper Casey Murphy. Among the other attempts were a corner service set up by midfielder Dorian Bailey, and a Trinity Rodman strike that traveled just wide of the goal.
In the 14’, North Carolina got its first real chance at goal via a service from Debhina to Lynn Williams inside the box, but the attempt was ultimately fruitless. This was the story of the first half, as the Courage failed to land a single shot on goal and possessed the ball a meager 45% of the opening half.
Conversely, the Spirit dominated possession, living in the Courage’s half of the pitch. And while the Spirit only managed to tally a single shot on goal, its six total shots were all legitimate goal scoring opportunities.
In the 17’ Tori Huster lofted a perfect ball to Hatch, who nearly sent it by Murphy. Hatch struck again much later, clearing space and rocketing a ball just over the post. Hatch’s good form rubbed off on fellow attacker Trinity Rodman, who had a similar strike in the 22’ that had a little too much air under it.
Despite controlling the opening half, the Spirit had nothing to show for and headed into halftime at a deadlock.
Coming out of the gate in the second half, though, the Courage found better footing under themselves, challenging the Spirit with a couple of early attempts on goal that launched Bledsoe off of her spot to make a pair of fantastic saves.
The Spirit answered this scoring chance with several of their own. Rodman found a shot, and then set up Ashley Sanchez in the box for another shot that was a few feet from finding the back of the net. Sanchez got her foot on another ball inside the box that was deflected off the post and out of bounds, inches away from sneaking behind North Carolina’s keeper.
The story of the second half continued in much of the same fashion, with both teams trading blows, but never conceding much ground.
Olympians Emily Sonnett and Kelley O’Hara got their first start in over two months, and came up with a couple crucial stops on a couple of scoring attempts from the Courage. On one occasion, Sonnett and O’Hara combined to stifle a Courage player on a breakaway. The second time, they teamed up with Sam Staab to clear a ball inside the box that almost went past Bledsoe who was caught out after a diving save attempt.
North Carolina, who was not very active offensively in the first half, tested Bledsoe much more in the second half. In fact, the Courage finished with more shots on goal (5) than the Spirit (4), after failing to land one in the first half. Overall, the second half was much more active as both teams nearly doubled their first half shot attempts — the Spirit finished with 21 while the Courage finished with 12.
Just before the end of the match, O’Hara nutmegged a Courage defender, lofting the ball to Rodman who was unable to connect with a header. Additionally, Hatch sent another well-struck ball just over the post and was unable to add to her league-leading tally of goals.
The game ultimately finished as it started, with either team failing to convert on a single one of their many scoring chances.
For their next league fixture, the Spirit travel to the west coast to take on the league-leading Portland Thorns on Saturday, September 4 at 10:30 pm ET which will be broadcast live on Paramount+ (USA) and Twitch (International).
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