Washington Spirit defeated North Carolina Courage, 2-0 at Audi Field in Washington, DC on Saturday. Spirit striker Ashley Hatch recorded a brace for the home side in the victory over first-place North Carolina, snapping the Courage's four game win streak.
It's a big win for Washington Spirit as they came out on the front foot against North Carolina, applying pressure and disrupting the Courage's box shaped midfield, and getting into the final third early. An early Spirit attempt from Andi Sullivan was blocked, but the opening goal came just after during the 11th minute when outside back Teagan McGrady delivered a cross into the box.
The sailing delivery caused a number of defenders to flood Ashley Sanchez, leaving Hatch open for a tap to opening the goal scoring.
The early goal led to a bit of back and forth between the two sides, with a more open game developing as the Courage chased an equalizer, though the Spirit still largely controlled the tempo. Hatch scored her second of the game when Sullivan intercepted a pass deep in the middle third, charged up the field and slotted a ball through for Hatch to finish.
Spirit continued their confident play early into the second half as North Carolina attempted to breakthrough on goal, with their best chance finally coming just around the hour mark as Merrit Mathias and Jess McDonald almost linked up for a header.
Sanchez remained active in the final third for the Spirit, though the striker was unable to breakthrough on goal during the match.
Spirit maintained the lead, while the Courage ultimately we unable to generate dangerous challenges recording only two attempts on target compared to nine shots on goal by the Spirit.
Let's take a look at some player ratings from the match. All ratings are based on a 1-10 scale with a 1 being an early red card send off and a 10 being a hat-trick level performance.
Washington Spirit, Andi Sullivan: The midfielder has had an impressive start, captaining the team and navigating things in the midfield for her club. Her positioning, awareness, and ability to read the game was on full display tonight as she picked up the assist on Hatch's second goal. Rating: 8
Washington Spirit, Ashley Hatch: The forward has had to deal with some lingering injuries this season but that hasn't disrupted her form in front of goal for the team as she recorded a brace tonight. She now has five goals over six starts and eight appearances for the team. Rating: 7.5
Washington Spirit, Ashley Sanchez: The second year striker is continuing her development week after week, and was a menace on the field as she was an option up top and rotated lower into the pitch when the team changed shape at times. Not on the score sheet, but was such a threat that the Courage had to account for her presence throughout the entire match. Rating: 7
The win means Washington Spirit are now in a tie for third place with Portland Thorns FC. The Spirit will host NJ/NY Gotham FC on July 18 at Segra Field. North Carolina are still in first place, but tied with 16 points as Orlando Pride sit behind them in second. The Courage will host Houston Dash on July 17.