Washington Spirit Defeat Orlando at Audi Field
Saturday night was a memorable night for the Washington Spirit and soccer fans throughout the DMV as a record setting crowd of 19,871 packed Audi Field saw the hometown women’s soccer club defeat the Orlando Pride 2-1. The win moved the Spirit up to sixth place in the NWSL standings in their hunt for a playoff spot and also snapped a three-game slide against Orlando.
Forward Crystal Thomas opened up the scoring in the ninth minute for the first Spirit goal scored at Audi Field. As goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris tried to corral a shot, Thomas stripped it away with a slide and put it in the back of the net.
Marta tied the game in the 31st minute and 1-1 would be the score at the half. The Spirit took the lead for good in the 59th minute with a header from Ashley Hatch off a cross from Tori Huster.
The Spirit were without four of their six World Cup stars due to injury including the USWNT’s Rose Lavelle and Mallory Pugh but the Spirit’s depth and role players came through. Aubrey Bledsoe made two big saves in goal to seal the win including a one-hander in the 70th minute.
The Spirit and the Pride will meet once again this Saturday but this time in Orlando for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff on NBC Sports Washington and the Monumental Sports Network. The Spirit return to Audi Field on September 14 when they host Reign FC.
Photo credit: Xavi Dussaq