The Washington Spirit and the Orlando Pride entered the match looking to stay alive in the group stage, the Spirit needs help from multiple teams on top of a win in this clash to make the knockout stage. Orlando would need a miracle beyond some help.
Ashley Hatch passes teammate Ashley Sanchez for most appearances in the Challenge Cup for the Spirit. Chloe Ricketts will look to build on her success in finding the goal during her last match versus Gotham FC. It will also be the first time Jordan Thompson would start in any NWSL competition.
The first half of the match saw the two teams going back and forth at each other, neither team could find a true edge over the other. The midfield and defensive play stood out from both sides. Julie Doyle was kept off the score sheet in the first half an improvement from the match-up on July 1, 2023. Julie scored two goals in the first 16' of the match.
The second half saw substitutes from both sides who made an impact, but the only goal of the match came in the 90'+8' when Mariana Speckmaier unleashed a shot from outside the top left corner of the box. It was her first career goal across all competitions in the NWSL.
The win was Spirit goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart's 56th career clean sheet across all competitions, stopping all seven shots she faced.
The Spirit moves into second place (9 points) ahead of Gotham FC (7 points) who has two matches remaining in the competition due to the Canadian Wildfires and severe weather that plagued the east coast this summer. Gotham FC will face the red-hot NC Courage and the Orlando Pride for their last two games.
Even if this is the final Challenge Cup game for Washington, they're having an amazing season under Mark Parson's leadership.
Photo Credits: © Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports/ © Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports