In what was a thriller at Audi Field on Wednesday Night, the Washington Spirit were able to defeat the OL Reign in the 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup Semis, as these two quality clubs needed a shootout to determine the winner. The Spirit won a ten-round penalty shootout by a score of 9-8
The OL Reign who were the to-seed in the Challenge Cup pressed the advantage against the Spirit, showing a different form versus the match that was played on May 1.
Impressing early on for the Spirit was Ashley Sanchez who had an ankle-breaking move around the 9th minute of play. It was around the 16th minute that Goalkeeper Aubrey Kingsbury made a diving save.
Kingsbury was one of the stars of the night for the Spirit as she was able to make some spectacular saves during the first half of play. Thanks to the plays by both goalkeepers both of the teams headed into the locker room tied at 0-0.
The stellar defensive showing continued for both squads, it looked as if the OL Reign had themselves a 1-0 lead at the 63rd minute, but a late offsides call made that goal go away. Washington had stepped up their game offensively shortly after, as the ladies found some wonderful combinations of plays.
One of the many highlights was that of a Trinity Rodman shot around the 67th minute, that eventually became a corner kick. Around the 72nd minute, Sanchez impressed with another amazing move, sending one towards the cage that was not meant to be. The ladies kept pouring in the chances, but were denied time and time again.
Per the Challenge Cup rules, both of the teams went straight into the shootout frame, and what a sizzling show fans had an opportunity to see. Both of the teams showed off some fancy moves and cashed in time and time again on their scoring opportunities.
Getting in on the shootout for the Spirit was goalie Kingsbury, who had herself a very rare scoring opportunity. Kingsbury made the most of her moment, connecting on a sweet move to find the back of the night.
It was around round eight that Phallon Tullis-Joyce had denied the opportunity by Tinaya Alexander. Just when it had seemed all hope was lost, Kingsbury had stepped into the cage with a diving save by denying Nikki Stanton that kept the shootout going.
Sam Staab was the ultimate hero of the night, getting the Spirit the edge with a bottom left-hand corner goal. It was Kingsman’s turn to see if she could save the day and help her squad advance to the Challenge Cup Championship and the keeper did just that by stopping a shot by Jess Fishlock.
The Spirit will travel to North Carolina to face the Courage in the 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup Finals. This will be the third time these two teams will meet, with the Championship Match to be held on May 7 at 1:00 p.m. Washington had themselves a match against the Chicago Red Stars scheduled for that day, but that has been postponed till Wednesday, June 8 at 8:00 p.m.
For photos from the match fans are encouraged to click on the link seen here:
For more information on the Washington Spirit fans are encouraged to click on the link seen here: