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Two Goals from Banini Move Spirit to Top of NWSL

The Washington Spirit got three big points after a win over FC Kansas City on Saturday night, which moved them to top of the National Women’s Soccer League standing with 26 points. The Spirit are technically tied for first with the Portland Thorns, but Portland has played two more games than the Spirit.

Saturday’s 3-2 road victory came thanks to Estefania Banini’s two goal performance which lifted the Spirit over the defending NWSL champs. It took both teams all of the first half to get on the board, but the Spirit broke through on Banini’s first goal in first-half stoppage time.

On Tuesday, Banini was voted the NWSL player of the week. Banini, 26, tallied two goals to help the Spirit earn a 3-2 victory over FC Kansas City at Swope Soccer Village in Kansas City. It was the team’s third win on the road this season. It is the first time Banini has been honored as the NWSL Player of the Week, and is the ninth time a member of the Spirit has won the award.

The referee added two minutes of stoppage time to the first half, the Spirit were able to use that extra time to take 1-0 lead in the break. Spirit midfielder Christine Nairn took a free kick which bounced off the head of a Kansas City player and fell to Banini. The Argentinian wove through a several Kansas City defenders and slotted her shot beyond FCKC goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart into the bottom right hand corner of the net.

A Nairn corner kick in the 59th minute caused chaos in front of the net and ended in four chances at goal for five different Spirit players. Franny Ordega, Whitney Church, Megan Oyster, and Estelle Johnson all got a look at goal before the ball found its way to the feet of Joanna Lohman who settled the chaos by blasting the ball into the back of the net to give the Spirit a 2-0 lead.

FCKC got on the board 10 minutes later as Erica Tymrak served a corner to the far post to a waiting Frances Silva who headed the ball into the net to cut the Spirit lead to 2-1.

In the 83rd minute, Banini earned her second goal of the game as The Mendoza, Argentina native volleyed a corner kick deflection off the head of FCKC’s Yael Averbuch which landed outside the 18. Banini blasted a shot past FCKC goalie Nichole Barnhart into the upper left corner of the net.

Groom gave hope to Kansas City in the 91st minute after a Brianne Reed throw in. Groom shot the ball from close range past Spirit goalkeeper Kelsey Wys’s left side to make the score 3-2.

The Washington Spirit return to action Saturday, July 23 at 7:00 p.m. ET against Sky Blue FC at Yurcak Field in Piscataway, N.J. The next Spirit home game at the Maryland SoccerPlex is Saturday, July 30 also against Sky Blue FC.

Captions: Washington Spirit’s Estefania Banini (10) with the ball at recent game at the Maryland SoccerPlex. Banini had two goals in Saturday’s 3-2 victory over FCKC. She was named NWSL Player of the Week for her efforts.

File Photos by Germantown Pulse. Video courtesy NWSL.

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