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Spirit Beat Pride to Remain in First Place in NWSL

The Washington Spirit extended their hold on first place in the National Women’s Soccer League with a 2-1 road victory over Alex Morgan and the Orlando Pride on Friday night.

The Spirit got goals from Christine Nairn and Cheyna Williams in front of 7,052 people at Camping World Stadium in Orlando on Friday to gain three points and extend their position at the top of the table in the league. The win combined with other results from teams around the league have the Spirit sitting with 35 points, four points ahead of the second-place Portland Thorns FC with 29 points. The Chicago Red Stars are third with 28 points.

With just four games remaining in the NWSL regular season, the Spirit have 11 wins, the most of any team in the NWSL. The Spirit have a record of 11-3-2 with 35 points as the league leaders begin tuning up for the playoffs and the NWSL championship game to be played in Houston on Sunday, Oct. 9.

The Spirit earned the first goal of the night when defender Caprice Dydasco made a run down the left flank, outrunning the Pride’s defense. Dydasco flicked the ball to Williams who took a nifty first touch around the Pride’s backline and then took to the net with a driven shot that soared over Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris. This is the second time this season that Dydasco and Williams have combined for a goal.

Nairn earned the second goal of the night, her third in two games when Katie Stengel was wide open in her run down the right side. The Pride’s defense lost track of the ball and left Nairn completely open while making a far post run. Stengel saw the opportunity and capitalized, sending a pass right to the feet of Nairn, leaving Harris with a slim chance at deflecting the shot.

The Pride saw one of its best opportunities midway through the second half when Kristen Edmonds passed a ball to the feet of the Pride’s Jasmyne Spencer, splitting Spirit defenders at the top of the box. Spencer was positioned one on one with Spirit goalkeeper Kelsey Wys, but the pressure of Wys coming off her line caused Spencer to flick the ball slightly to the left of the goal.

Shortly after, the Pride closed the gap with a goal by Hagen who had come into the game just minutes earlier. Cami Levin sent a cross right across the face of net, and Hagen tapped it in with a run into the six-yard box.

The Spirit got some bad news this week as they announced that forward and reigning NWSL Player of the Month for July Estefania Banini underwent successful left knee arthroscopy on Wednesday, August 24 and is expected to miss 4 to 6 weeks. Banini missed the Spirit’s match in Houston on August 18 due to pain in the knee and will begin rehabilitation immediately.

The Spirit will return home to the Maryland SoccerPlex on this Saturday, Sept. 3 to face the fourth-place Western New York Flash, with 27 points. This game will also mark the return of Germantown-native Britt Eckerstrom, who is a goalkeeper for the Flash.


Top: Washington Spirit’s Christine Nairn (7) scored the game-winning goal in Friday’s 2-1 win over the Orlando Pride. File Photo.

Next: The Spirit’s rookie Cheyna Williams (20) had the first goal of the game on Friday. File Photo.

Video: Highlights of Friday’s Washington Spirit’s victory over the Orlando Pride.

Photos by Germantown Pulse, video courtesy NWSL

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