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Pugh Named NWSL Player of the Week After Spirit Wins Home Opener

Washington Spirit forward Mallory Pugh was voted the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) Player of the Week by the NWSL Media Association for Week 2 of the 2018 season.

Pugh, 19, scored the game-winning goal and was instrumental in creating the second to lead the Spirit to 2-0 home victory, their first of the season, over the Orlando Pride at the Maryland SoccerPlex.

The Highlands Ranch, Colo. native ran onto a header from Ashley Hatch near midfield and proceeded to drive at the Pride defense. At the top of the box, Pugh cut to the outside creating an angle for herself and calmly slotted it past Orlando goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris for a 1-0 advantage in the 80th minute.

That set the stage for Pugh to return the favor in the 88th minute as her centering pass from the end line forced a defensive miscue by Pride and the ball fell fortuitously to the feet of Hatch, who smashed a first-time shot into the back of the net.

It is the first time Pugh has been honored as the NWSL Player of the Week and the 13th time a Washington Spirit player has won the award.

Washington controlled 55 percent of the possession and outshot Orlando 7-3 in the first half, while the Pride recorded the only two shots on frame of the opening period. Both resulted in saves by Bledsoe.

In the second half, U.S. international midfielder Andi Sullivan notched Washington’s first shot on target in the 58th minute. Sullivan’s right-footed shot from 35 toward the center of the goal, leading to Harris’ first save of the afternoon.

The Spirit found the net twice in the second period despite Orlando controlling 60.4 percent of the possession. Throughout the course of the game, Washington and Orlando each recorded 14 shots, with three on target for the Spirit and four on frame for the Pride.

Spirit defenders Caprice Dydasco, Estelle Johnson, Whitney Church and U.S. international Taylor Smith all played the full 90 minutes on the back line in the club’s first shutout of the young season.

Following the upcoming FIFA international break, Washington will return to NWSL action on Saturday, April 14 for a home game against the North Carolina Courage. Kickoff for the match is set for 7:00 pm at the Maryland SoccerPlex.

Captions: Mallory Pugh celebrates her goal with Spirit teammates after putting the Spirit ahead in Saturday’s home opener. She was named NWSL Player of the Week for Week 2.

Photo courtesy Washington Spirit Fan Page.

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