The Spirit experienced their first loss at Audi Field this season.

Box Score: 1-2

NWSL Challenge Cup – Match 3

First Half – 

The Spirit started this match with a much different lineup compared to the usual one we’ve seen so far this season, with Ricketts and Barnhart getting the start. Not even two minutes into the match and Silano gets a deep pass, kicking it straight into NC Courage’s keeper, with the ball being caught. The Spirit started the first half fast, controlling the pace. It’s only a few moments later that NC’s Lussi takes a shot, and it’s saved by Barnhart. 

With shots wide of the net and saves made, the first half is seemingly even. Ricketts, the now 16 year old player, gets the ball at her feet and no matter the situation the home crowd at Audi Field cheer loudly for her. Despite the excitement and the chances, the Spirit ended the opening half tied at zero.

Second Half –

The Spirit started the second half with the ball, staying steady with the same control that ended the first half with. Silano has been consistently taking shots, but so far nothing seems to connect to create a goal for the Spirit. Douglas with a backheel pass to Sheva, Sheva with a shot on goal but caught by the Courage keeper, the team’s closest chance for a goal so far. Silano gets the ball again not long after Sheva’s attempt, she’s headed straight through the Courage’s box but is brought down. With a quick once over, the referee dismisses any idea that it was a foul and the play continues. 

The Courage with the ball, three straight one touch passes straight toward Barnhart but Biegalski is there, causing a turnover, keeping NC from scoring. The change of possession happens quickly, and soon Douglas has the ball and is inside NC’s box with the ball but as she goes for the finish, a Courage player deflects the ball out of bounds. With a corner kick in, McKeown headed the ball straight into NC’s net, scoring the first goal of the game, as well as her first goal since being moved to a defender.

At the 52nd minute, Jaurena is subbed off for Metayer and in the following sequence, the Courage take advantage of the change of positions from the Spirit. Ratcliffe gets the ball and equalizes the game with a tight ball that soars right by Barnhart. With the Spirit seeming a bit deflated by the equalizing goal, they continue their efforts nonetheless. A yellow card is given to Biegalski, and soon after that Brooks eyes the ball, almost connecting for a chance, but nothing coming of it. 

With the remaining time of the match winding down, Kerolin drives up the field, through defenders but it’s McKeown that stops her from connecting for a shot on goal. With four minutes of stoppage time added, Kerolin has the ball once again, passing to Ratcliffe. Ratcliffe passes to Wingate, and only two minutes into stoppage time, Courage’s Wingate scores the game-sealing goal, giving the Spirit their first loss of 2023 at Audi Field.

Washington Spirit Goals – McKeown 54’

NC Courage- Ratcliffe 62’, Wingate 90+2’


Washington (442)

(C)Barnard; Biegalski, Brooks, Staab (McKeown 46’), Tanner (Carle 82’); Ricketts (Bailey 49’), Jaurena (Metayer 62’), Douglas (Sanchez 75’), Sheva; Silano, Kuhlmann

NC Courage (433)

Rowland; Williams, Kurtz, Berkeley (Wingate 76’), Pickett (Collins 57’); Tagliaferri (Hopkins 86’), Pinto (Miura 57’), Speck (C); Lussi, Madsen (Kerolin 76’), Ratcliffe

Misconduct Summary:

Washington Spirit- Biegalski 70’

NC Courage- 

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David Rusk

Thanks, Jodabney, good report. I was there last night as were perhaps 6-7k other fans. It was a preview of the Spirit during World Cup time. No Rodman, Hatch, Sullivan and Sanchez for only the last 19 minutes. Only regular starters were Jaurena and Staab (who was subbed for McKeown at halftime).

Besides four above mentioned, isn’t Ines Jaurena being called up for her national team (what country?)? Wasn’t Gabby Carle not selected by Canada? Could Kingsbury be called up by USWNT? Possible seven Spirit gone for World Cup.

It was a very leisurely first half but the pace and crowd excitement definitely picked up in the second half.

Good to see Tara McKeown get her goal.

Otherwise, with two losses are Spirit unlikely to make it out of Challenge Cup group?

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x