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Washington Spirit roll past Orlando Pride in 4-1 NWSL Challenge Cup win

The Spirit got four goals from USWNT-bound players as they brushed past the Pride with ease

Kelley Piper / Black and Red United

The Washington Spirit left no doubts in the District today, thumping the Orlando Pride en route to a 4-1 victory. Playing their third game in nine days, Washington got goals from Ashley Sanchez, Andi Sullivan, Ashley Hatch, and Trinity Rodman — all just before they depart for USWNT camp — to pick up the win at a wind-swept Audi Field.

Washington — who had Devon Kerr in goal for her first competitive start since joining the club in 2019 — controlled play from the jump, with a well-worked sequence ending with Trinity Rodman nearly glancing the ball past Anna Moorhouse in the 9th minute. At the other end, Orlando wasted a glorious chance to counter with no defenders between two Pride attackers and goal when Darian Jenkins’ first touch let her down at midfield.

Rodman then drove into the box to set up Anna Heilferty in the 16th minute for a shot that Moorhouse closed down, while Rodman’s cross two minutes later rolled through the goalmouth without a Washington finish. The Pride threatened on the counter several times, but a 29th minute Washington attack saw Ashley Sanchez spin away from multiple Orlando players and square the ball to Ashley Hatch, whose lunging shot accidentally struck Heilferty, keeping a sure goal off the board.

Rodman came up big defensively shortly thereafter, blocking a heavy Meggie Dougherty Howard half-volley, before getting an assist just before halftime. Andi Sullivan fed Rodman down the right in the 43rd minute, and Rodman crossed low. Hatch dummied the ball on, leaving Sanchez wide open for a tap-in from close range.

Washington weren’t done, scoring a similar goal two minutes later. Rodman swapped flanks with Heilferty after the goal, and this time the 2021 Rookie of the Year crossed low from the left, just before hitting the endline. Sullivan had jumped into the attack, taking a touch, spinning to change her angle before firing low past Moorhouse to make it 2-0.

The Spirit picked up right where they left off, padding their lead in the 49th minute. Heilferty and Camryn Biegalski worked their way through the Pride along the left touchline, before Biegalski had time to serve a cross in for Hatch. The 2021 Golden Boot winner, who entered the game with 9 goals in 12 career games at Audi Field, did what she does, expertly glancing the ball past Moorhouse from close range.

Orlando didn’t quit, pulling a goal back in the 54th minute. Jenkins went on a long run down the right, holding Biegalski off, before sending in a cross. Erika Tymrak couldn’t get a touch, but Gunnhildur Jónsdóttir won a race to the back post with substitute Julia Roddar, beating her by inches to poke the ball past Aubrey Kingsbury, who came in at halftime.

Washington nearly pulled back ahead by three in the 59th minute, with Kelley O’Hara nodding Sanchez’s free kick just wide, while the Pride ended up changing shape with a triple sub seemingly aimed at slowing the game down.

It worked for a spell, but Washington were pushing for a fourth in the late stages. Rodman thought she’d made it 4-1 in the 79th minute after Sanchez back-pressed, won the ball, and sent her through, but the offside flag robbed her of the chance to celebrate. That duo combined again five minutes later, with Rodman improvising to pop a ball in for Sanchez, only for her 11-yard effort to roll wide.

Rodman wasn’t denied in the 86th minute, though, making it 4-1. O’Hara’s cross in from the right found her open, and Rodman caught Moorhouse leaning towards the far post, sending the ball the opposite way and into the bottom corner, finishing off a dominant Spirit performance.

Having finally broken through with a win, the Spirit (1W-3D-0L in the East) must wait two weeks to build more momentum due to the FIFA international break. Washington’s next match is Sunday, April 17, when they travel to New Jersey to face Gotham FC.

Box Score

NWSL Challenge Cup - East Group, Game 4
Washington Spirit 4 (Sanchez 43, Sullivan 45, Hatch 49, Rodman 86)
Orlando Pride 1 (Jónsdóttir 54)

Spirit (4231): Devon Kerr (Aubrey Kingsbury 46); Kelley O’Hara, Karina Rodríguez Amber Brooks 69), Sam Staab, Camryn Biegalski; Taylor Aylmer, Andi Sullivan (C) (Julia Roddar 50); Trinity Rodman, Ashley Sanchez, Anna Heilferty (Morgan Goff 69); Ashley Hatch (Tinaya Alexander 78)

Orlando (4231): Anna Moorhouse; Carrie Lawrence (Celia 60), Amy Turner (Toni Pressley 79), Megan Montefusco, Courtney Petersen; Angharad James (Parker Roberts 60), Meggie Dougherty Howard; Mikayla Cluff (Abi Kim 76), Gunnhildur Jónsdóttir (C), Erika Tymrak (Kerry Abello 60); Darian Jenkins

Spirit - None
Orlando - James 27, Turner 74