Washington Spirit starters Andi Sullivan, Ashley Hatch, and Gabrielle Carle have extended their contracts with the team in a wise move by the team to lock down some of their top talent.
Hatch’s contract includes an option for the 2024 season, which has been exercised for this deal. Hatch – a Brigham Young University alumna who joined Washington in 2018 after one season in North Carolina – is the Spirit’s leading goal-scorer and a competitor in the Golden Boot race, with 6 goals and 2 assists so far in 2023. She’s also become the team’s designated left-side corner kicker this season, adding another element to her game as an attacker.
Sullivan has signed a three-year deal beginning immediately and extending through 2025 with an option for 2026. Before today, Sullivan’s contract was set to expire at the end of the season, likely making her one of the most sought-after signings of the 2023-24 free agency period. A graduate of Stanford University, Sullivan was selected by the Spirit as the first pick of the 2018 NWSL draft, and she has become the centerpiece of the team with her steady presence and outstanding vision in the midfield.
Carle’s previous contract extended through the end of 2024 with a one-year option, which makes her extension today perhaps the most surprising. The new contract will keep the Canadian left back in Washington for an additional year: it lasts through 2025 with an option for 2026. Though this is just her first year with the Spirit, Carle has been an essential part of the club’s strong defensive performance. Like Sullivan and Hatch, Carle has started every regular season Spirit match this season.
With the Spirit currently sitting at first place in the NWSL standings and poised to make a deep playoff run, all three of these players were likely to see increased interest from other teams. In particular, 2024 expansion side Utah Royals might have sought to bring free agent Hatch back to her college state to help promote the new team, similar to the strategy Angel City FC used with Christen Press.
The willingness of top players like these to commit themselves to the Spirit long-term shows the value to players of what the team is building, both in terms of performance on the field and support off of it. Team owner Y. Michele Kang has often mentioned that in her quest to create a world-class product, taking care of players was always the first step, and moves like this indicate that strategy might be paying off.