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Washington Spirit set club record attendance mark... and extend NWSL record scoreless streak

The Portland Thorns were the better team from start to finish on Saturday, spoiling the Spirit’s Audi Field debut.

Anya Button

The Washington Spirit set a pair of club records on Saturday, and one was much more impressive than the other. A crowd of 7,976 — the largest for a home game in club history — watched the team’s first match at Audi Field. Unfortunately, those fans did not get to see the Spirit score. Portland Thorns FC won 1-0, and the Spirit extended their NWSL record scoreless streak to 694 minutes without a goal.

It didn’t take long for the Thorns to get on the scoreboard through Tobin Heath. The goal was set up by Hayley Raso, who got behind Mallory Eubanks down the right flank and delivered a cross towards the back post. Heath got the better of Taylor Smith in space before smashing a rocket into the roof of the net, giving Portland a 1-0 lead in the 15th minute.

The Spirit’s best move of the match came in the 33rd minute, off a quick counter attack. Mallory Pugh switched the ball to Smith, who passed forward to Rose Lavelle on the edge of the box. Lavelle cut in on her left foot and hit a shot on target, but Adrianna Franch came up with a comfortable save.

The first 20 minutes of the second half featured a number of chances for the Thorns. Lindsey Horan blasted a clear-cut opportunity over the bar in the 49th minute off a layoff by Ana Crnogorcevic, then nearly scored again in the 55th minute, but was bullied off the ball by Andi Sullivan.

Portland attacker Hayley Raso was injured in a scary moment in the 56th minute. Raso and Spirit goalkeeper Audrey Bledsoe both went up for the same ball, and in the process of making a punch, Bledsoe inadvertently made heavy contact to Raso’s back with her knee. Raso was down for an extended period of time and had to be carried off on a stretcher.

The Spirit looked more lively in the latter part of the second half after Caprice Dydasco entered the game for Havana Solaun, pushing Mallory Eubanks farther up the pitch. But the home side still couldn’t end its scoreless streak, and ended the match with just two shots on target.

The Spirit will finish up their 2018 season with a home game against Sky Blue FC on September 1st at 7:00pm.