BOYDS – The Washington Spirit continue their winning ways, defeating the Utah Royals 2-0 on June 1, in front of a season-high crowd of 4,575 spectators at the Maureen Hendricks Field at Maryland SoccerPlex.
With the win, the Spirit (5-1-1) improve their winning streak to four games and take sole position of first place with 16 points, as the Portland Thorns FC sit in second place. The victory also averages their 1-0 road loss against Utah on April 20.
The game was scoreless until the 23rd minute when striker Ashley Hatch (top right) retrieved a pass at the top of the Utah penalty area with her back toward the goal. She kept control of the ball as she turned around and released a right-footed shot, which drifted past goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart. It was the Arizona native’s third goal of the season.
Washington continued its offensive pressure throughout the game — outshooting the Royals, 15-7 — they held 62.8 percent of the ball possession. Captain Andi Sullivan (bottom left) almost added the Spirit’s second goal of the match when she received a pass from Hatch from outside the penalty area. However, her one-timer attempt flew over the crossbar.
After halftime, the Spirit continued attacking Barnhart’s goal. Hatch almost scored her second goal when a defensive stop turned into a counterattack. She was alone with Barnhart and released a laser shot toward Utah’s goal. The ball smacked off the post but landed in front of Spirit rookie Dorian Bailey’s feet.
The midfielder quickly redirected the shot back inside the goal net for Washington’s second goal. Striker Cali Farquharson attempted to score a third goal in the dying moments of the game, but her floating shot sailed over the crossbar. Goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe recorded six saves to ensure her fourth clean sheet of the season.
Washington will take a week off next week in observance of the FIFA Women’s World Cup. They return to action on June 15 as they travel to Tacoma, Washington, to take on Reign FC.