Spirit secure a point in dramatic 1-1 draw
Updated: Aug 3
The Washington Spirit and Portland Thorns played to a tense draw late yesterday evening. The first half was completely dominated by the Thorns, consistently applying unrelenting pressure and delivering aggressive tackles. However, the backline was strong, Spirit defenders Paige Nielsen and Natalie Jacobs, were consistent last night, both with acrobatic goal line clearances showing great composure in the back. As the first half went on, the Thorns proved dangerous as they continued to take advantage of the likes of Lindsey Horan, USWNT star known for her powerful headers and crunching tackles. At the half, the two squads were evenly matched statistically, as neither side was able to score.
Before the second half began, Rose Lavelle and Ashley Hatch, two attacking mainstays, replaced Bayley Feist and Averie Collins. Within minutes, the two provided some much needed attacking force and proved their indispensability. While the game progressed the additions of Lavelle and Hatch proved threatening as both were creating opportunities for themselves and others. In spite of the cohesion the Spirit began to develop, a strong service in the 69th minute from Thorns defender Meghan Klingenberg led to a trademark Lindsey Horan header, caroming off of the crossbar past Bledsoe’s extended arm into the Spirit’s goal. However, in true NWSL fashion, a comeback was bound to occur. In the 77th minute, a stupendous heel flick from Ashley Sanchez off of Dorian Bailey’s corner kick resulted in a powerful header from Sam Staab to make it even. Staab, Bailey, and Sanchez, all under the age of 24 infused youthful creativity and executed a seamless play, providing the Spirit with an equalizer.
The combination of veteran leadership and talent from the likes of Huster and Nielsen and experimentation and courage from players like Jacobs and Sanchez has created a perfect storm for the revitalized squad. With immense potential, grit, creativity, and passion, the team is just getting started. Natalie Jacobs, Rose Lavelle, and Paige Nielsen are our players to watch out for as the NWSL Challenge Cup continues.
After having played three matches, the Thorns have two draws and a loss to their name and sit in fifth place. Ahead of them, the Spirit have a win, a loss, and a draw, sitting in fourth place. The Washington Spirit will return to play on Sunday, July 12th at 12:30pm EST against the Houston Dash.
Photo: Washington Spirit