The Washington Spirit continued one of their best runs of form in years, seeing off the Houston Dash in a 1-0 win. Trinity Rodman’s second half strike decided the game as Washington overcame a bit of early pressure to take charge of the game’s final hour. Washington sealed a home playoff game with the victory, and extended a run that — setting aside forfeits — has seen the Spirit go 6W-3D-0L since Richie Burke was ousted in the second week of August.
Ashley Hatch, who entered the match leading the Golden Boot race, was robbed of an 11th goal on the year by a brilliant Jane Campbell save in the 5th minute after good work from Ashley Sanchez to set her up. At the other end, Washington had a 20th minute scare as a seemingly offside Nichelle Prince was allowed to run in behind to chase down a through ball. With no flag coming, Aubrey Bledsoe had to do very well to beat Prince to the ball and not cough up a rebound.
The Spirit slowly grew into the game, though, with more possession as time wore on. Trinity Rodman bought herself some space in the 41st minute to lay the ball back to Sanchez, whose shot flew just over the bar.
Washington controlled the second half, playing with confidence and carving out multiple half-chances, but it was only after the Dash — who needed just a draw to qualify for the playoffs — brought in a fifth defender that they began finding space to operate in. That pressure finally paid off in a 76th minute goal. Houston didn’t get pressure to Sam Staab, who served up an inch-perfect long ball that sent Rodman in behind. Under pressure from Dash defenders, Rodman showed strength to keep her balance before calmly firing a shot past Jane Campbell.
The Spirit kept after it, with Sanchez curling a free kick just barely over the bar, but despite the Dash throwing numbers forward late, Washington saw their way through to yet another shutout win.
The win means the Spirit (11W-6D-7L, 39 points) finish 3rd in the NWSL standings, guaranteeing themselves a home playoff game against the North Carolina Courage. That game is set for November 7, with kickoff time yet to be determined.
NWSL Regular Season - Game 24
Washington Spirit 1 (Rodman 76)
Houston Dash 0
Spirit (433): Aubrey Bledsoe; Kelley O’Hara (Paige Nielsen 92+), Emily Sonnett, Sam Staab, Tegan McGrady (Julia Roddar 69); Andi Sullivan (C), Ashley Sanchez (Taylor Aylmer 85), Dorian Bailey (Tori Huster 92+); Trinity Rodman, Tara McKeown (Anna Heilferty 69), Ashley Hatch
Dash (4141): Jane Campbell; Haley Hanson, Abby Dahlkemper, Katie Naughton, Allysha Chapman (Gabby Seiler 83); Sophie Schmidt; Nichelle Prince (Michaela Abam 85), Shea Groom (Veronica Latsko 86), Kristie Mewis, Jasmyne Spencer (Megan Oyster 70); Rachel Daly (C)
Spirit - None
Dash - Naughton 63, Groom 72