The Washington Spirit defeated San Diego Wave FC in a confident 3-1 victory at home on Saturday afternoon, extending their unbeaten streak to six games.
The Spirit dominated play in the first half, rarely allowing the Wave into their defensive third and taking nine shots, but they were not rewarded with a goal for their efforts. This was in part thanks to the efforts of Wave goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan, who made an incredible seven saves in the first half. Washington also had a few promising shots go off target, including this shot by Ashley Sanchez off a beautiful assist attempt by Trinity Rodman.
The Rodman-Sanchez connection finally paid off in the second half. Although San Diego had some early chances, the Spirit were able to hold them off and regain control. In the 55th minute, Sanchez received the ball from Sullivan and passed it to the top of San Diego’s goal area in range of Rodman, who raced two Wave defenders to collect it. An attempted deflection by Christen Westphal pushed the ball closer to the goal, allowing Rodman to collect it and kick it past Sheridan for the first goal of the match.
The pair struck again in the 70th minute, with Rodman driving the ball up the field, then making a quick pass to Sanchez at the top of the box. Though the same set-up had failed a couple of times in the first half, this time Sanchez was able to hit the ball with enough power to arc it over Sheridan’s outstretched hand and into the back of the net. Rodman set a league record with the assist, becoming the first player to earn 10 goals and 10 assists under the age of 21.
Washington closed out their scoring for the day with a header by Paige Metayer off of a corner kick, her first professional goal.
San Diego struck back with a goal in the 90th minute, when Alex Morgan capitalized on a loose ball in front of the Spirit’s goal to score. She had another close call a minute later, but Sam Staab pushed her off the ball in the box, and Aubrey Kingsbury recovered it.
Overall, the Spirit put on a strong performance in front of a home crowd of 12,232 fans. The team was successful at incorporating more players, particularly Ashley Sanchez, into the attack and was able to control play through the midfield. Defensively, Tara McKeown put in a heroic effort to keep Morgan largely out of play, and the Spirit held San Diego to just four shots. This was Washington’s strongest game of the season to date, showing a team that have firmly put 2022 behind them.
NWSL regular season – Game 6
Washington Spirit 3 (Rodman 55′, Sanchez 70′, Metayer 79′)
San Diego Wave FC 1 (Morgan 90′)
Washington Spirit (442): Aubrey Kingsbury; Gabrielle Carle (Maddie Elwell 86′), Sam Staab, Tara McKeown, Amber Brooks; Andi Sullivan (Chloe Ricketts 86′), Paige Metayer, Inés Juarena (Marisa Sheva 73′), Ashley Sanchez (Nicole Douglas 86′); Trinity Rodman (Lena Silano 90+1′), Ashley Hatch
San Diego Wave FC (442): Kailen Sheridan; Naomi Girma, Kaleigh Riehl, Kristen McNabb, Christen Westphal (Madison Pogarch 78′); Makenzy Doniak (Melanie Barcenas 84′), Danielle Colaprico, Sofia Jakobsson, Rachel Hill (Amirah Ali 66′); Jaedyn Shaw (Isabella Briede 46′), Alex Morgan
Washington Spirit: Gabrielle Carle 26′
San Diego Wave FC: Christen Westphal 27′