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Washington Spirit show promise, but fall 3-1 to Girondins de Bordeaux

A first half lead disappeared as Bordeaux’s French stars showed their class

Kelley Piper

The Washington Spirit couldn’t maintain a first half lead, falling 3-1 to FC Girondins de Bordeaux in their first preseason match against a professional side. A first half own goal gave the Spirit the lead, but France internationals Claire Lavogez and Viviane Asseyi produced 3 goals through pure individual skill, handing the Division 1 Feminine side the win.

After enduring a bit of early pressure from Bordeaux, the Spirit carved out the game’s first chance. Ashley Hatch won the battle for a loose ball on the touchline with Andrea Lardez. With the visitors caught out, Hatch crossed quickly for a wide open Mallory Pugh, but Pugh was denied by Erin Nayler, who came off her line and made a wonderful save.

The Spirit created another good look in the 14th minute, mostly due to the work of Rose Lavelle. First, Lavelle spun out of trouble with a splendid turn, and then followed it up with a sharp one-two with Pugh. Lavelle stormed into the area, but her angled shot went just barely wide.

The fluid Washington attack showed some confidence going forward that wasn’t that common in 2018. A spell of possession deep in Bordeaux’s defensive third saw the Spirit patiently work the ball around until Jordan DiBiasi had a window to fire on goal from 23 yards. The rookie midfielder got good purchase on her shot, but the effort whistled just wide of Erin Nayler’s right post.

The Spirit’s positive start got the goal it deserved in the 34th minute. Lavelle burst out of the midfield on the dribble, causing Bordeaux all sorts of problems. Lavelle sprayed the ball wide right to Hatch, who then crossed towards the penalty spot. Pugh managed to meet the service, twisting in mid-air to guide her header past Nayler only for it to clank off the post. Fortunately for Washington, the ball rebounded right to Chloe Barnes, whose attempt to control the ball only managed to guide it over the line for an own goal.

Bordeaux hadn’t been able to create much in almost 40 minutes, but a shot from France national team regular Viviane Asseyi in the 44th minute knuckled on its way in, forcing Aubrey Bledsoe to tip the ball over the bar.

After making three subs at halftime, Spirit carved out an instant chance. Meggie Dougherty Howard, one of those subs, forced a turnover that went straight to the feet of another sub, Arielle Ship. Ship carried the ball to the top of the box before crossing low for Pugh. In alone, Pugh took one too many touches before shooting, giving Bordeaux substitute goalkeeper Romane Bruneau the chance to save. Pugh’s second attempt was blocked by the collapsing defense, and then after a scramble, DiBiasi had another shot charged down by a defender, allowing the visitors to escape.

The Spirit would come to regret the miss in the 55th minute, as longtime French international Claire Lavogez equalized with a wonderful free kick. Out on the wing, it looked like Bordeaux would serve the ball in, but Lavogez went for goal, producing a dipping shot that tucked into a tiny window below the crossbar but above Bledsoe’s leap.

After a first half that saw the Spirit repeatedly find space between the lines, Bordeaux spent the second half playing out of a low block, slowing the game’s tempo down significantly. Washington had tons of possession, with Andi Sullivan dropping between the center backs to dictate, but couldn’t break into the final third very often.

Bordeaux hadn’t been able to mount an attack in some time, but took the lead in the 79th minute after a fortunate deflection gave them a penalty kick. Maelle Garbino’s cross from the left clipped Dorian Bailey’s hand, and while players paused, the ball fell right to Asseyi on the run. Bledsoe went to ground to prevent a shot, but Asseyi took another touch, drawing just enough contact to get a spot kick. Asseyi took the shot herself, stutter-stepping before firing low and to Bledsoe’s left.

The Spirit pushed for an equalizer, sending Sullivan up as an auxiliary forward. Ship’s header floated just wide in the 87th minute, and Washington came close a couple of other times before being caught out in stoppage time. Trialist Carlin Hudson cut out a long ball, but the deflection ran on for the ever-threatening Asseyi, who raced in all alone before lobbing Bledsoe to make it 3-1.

Highlights will be added when they become available.

Box Score

NWSL Preseason
Washington Spirit 1 (Barnes 34og)
FC Girondins de Bordeaux 3 (Lavogez 55; Asseyi 79pen, 91+)

Spirit (433): Aubrey Bledsoe; Cheyna Matthews (Dorian Bailey 46), Paige Nielsen (McKenzie Berryhill 65), Sam Staab (Carlin Hudson 82), Megan Crosson (Tegan McGrady 65); Tori Huster (Meggie Dougherty Howard 46), Andi Sullivan (C), Jordan DiBiasi (Joanna Lohman 83); Rose Lavelle (Arielle Ship 46), Ashley Hatch (Tiffany McCarty 73), Mallory Pugh (Bayley Feist 73)

Bordeaux (4231): Erin Nayler (Romane Bruneau 46); Chloe Barnes, Kathleen Sousa (Julia Thibaud 31), Vanessa Gilles, Andrea Lardez; Solene Barbance (Juliane Gathrat 31), Ghoutia Karchouni; Viviane Asseyi, Claire Lavogez (Camille Surdez 83), Maelle Garbino; Carol

Spirit - None
Bordeaux - Surdez 86, Gathrat 87