The Washington Spirit made no mistake at Audi Field, strolling past Racing Louisville to the tune of a 3-0 scoreline. Ashley Hatch scored early and late, both on assists from Trinity Rodman, while Andi Sullivan converted a penalty kick early in the second half as the Spirit moved back into a playoff spot in the NWSL standings.
Washington started confidently, essentially setting up shop in the Louisville half, and that positive opening lead to an early lead. Trinity Rodman won the ball along the right before delivering a lovely pass that was just barely out of the reach of Louisville’s Sinclaire Miramontez, but perfect for Ashley Hatch, who took a touch before tidily finishing past Michelle Betos in the 8th minute.
The Spirit didn’t let up, with Betos and the Racing defense put under pressure throughout the game’s early stages. It wasn’t until the 27th minute that Louisville managed to test Aubrey Bledsoe, and even that was a solo raid from Cece Kizer rather than a sustained attacking push.
Ashley Sanchez and Tara McKeown combined to nearly make it 2-0 in the 36th minute. The Spirit moved play from the left to the middle, with Sanchez sending McKeown through on goal with a perfect through ball, only for the rookie forward to fire her low shot wide at the moment of truth.
The Spirit began the half in the same way, with Rodman intercepting a pass before firing into the outside netting in the 48th minute amid a stretch that saw three Spirit corners in roughly two minutes. That pressure paid off in the form of a penalty kick, with Sanchez tripped up by Miramontez in the box after being found by Rodman.
Andi Sullivan, for the second time in three games, stepped up to convert the spot kick, sending Betos the wrong way to make it 2-0 in the 52nd minute.
Sullivan’s night ended shortly thereafter following an awkward fall along the touchline, with Bledsoe finally facing a real challenge to save a Racing free kick that got through the wall in the 66th minute. Still, the Spirit remained the major threat, with Hatch and Rodman both nearly getting in behind and Sanchez having a dangerous shot blocked just over the bar in the 78th minute.
Washington at last made it 3-0 in the 80th, with Rodman once again setting Hatch up. Moments after appearing to be stretching some sore calves, Rodman spotted a sloppy pass out of the back by Racing and pounced, forcing the turnover before slipping a pass past Betos. From there, Hatch just had to touch the ball over the line, putting her into a tie for first in the NWSL Golden Boot race with 9 goals.
Rodman nearly added a fourth in stoppage time but, showing clear fatigue after putting so much into the game, shot right at Betos.
The victory takes the Spirit (8W-6D-7L, 30 points) up to 4th place in the NWSL at the moment, with no fewer than three teams — Gotham, Houston, and Chicago — all just one point behind them. They face another quick turnaround, as their next game is Wednesday night’s road trip to face North Carolina after that game was rescheduled in the wake of the league-wide stoppage in play due to the allegations against Paul Riley.
NWSL Regular Season - Game 21
Washington Spirit 3 (Hatch 8, 79; Sullivan 52pen
Racing Louisville 0
Spirit (433): Aubrey Bledsoe; Kelley O’Hara (Paige Nielsen 69), Emily Sonnett, Sam Staab, Julia Roddar (Tegan McGrady 62); Ashley Sanchez (Saori Takarada 80), Andi Sullivan (C) (Tori Huster 62), Dorian Bailey; Trinity Rodman, Tara McKeown (Anna Heilferty 69), Ashley Hatch
Louisville (4312): Michelle Betos (C); Julia Ashley, Sinclaire Miramontez (Jorian Baucom 83), Kaleigh Riehl, Erin Simon (Nealy Martin 46); Emily Fox, Taylor Otto, Lauren Milliet (Emina Ekic 72); Savannah McCaskill (Yuki Nagasato 60); Ebony Salmon (Cheyna Matthews 60), Cece Kizer
Spirit - None
Louisville - McCaskill 39