The Washington Spirit and Chicago Red Stars traded first half goals before withstanding rain and heavy wind in the second half of a 1-1 draw on Saturday night in front of 3,448 fans at the Maryland SoccerPlex.
Washington opened the scoring in just the fourth minute, when Nigerian international forward Francisca Ordega finished off a cross sent in by U.S. international forward Mallory Pugh. The tap-in goal pushed Ordega’s scoring streak to three games, while Pugh notched her first assist of the season on the play.
Chicago leveled things up in the 20th minute on a goal by Alyssa Mautz. The 28-year-old forward recovered a loose ball in the center of the box and promptly connected on a left-footed shot, sent into the bottom right corner of the net.
Both teams continued to pressure the opposing defenses for the remainder of the half, but each side managed to hold off a couple of serious scoring chances.
Spirit goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe made a pair of critical saves in the closing minutes of the first half, including a diving stop on a header by Chicago’s Samantha Johnson in the 41st.
The sides traded scoring chances in the waning moments of the opening half. Pugh nearly put Washington ahead in the 44th minute with a breakaway up the right wing, as she juked the last defender and fired a shot which was ultimately saved by Red Stars goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher.
In stoppage time, Spirit defender Taylor Smith came through with a critical blocked shot, sliding in to knock away a close range shot taken by U.S. international forward Sofia Huerta.
Playing directly against the wind in the second half, the Spirit back line withstood a late push by Chicago, playing the majority of the final 20 minutes with the ball in their defensive third. Washington’s defense still limited the Red Stars attack to just four shots on target.
U.S. international forward Ashley Hatch provided the Spirit’s only on-target shot in the second half, on a right-footed strike from outside the box.
Washington will visit Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday, May 5 for the club’s first ever match against Utah Royals FC. Kickoff is set for 9:00 pm.
Top: The Spirit’s Mallory Pugh (11) sends a cross passed Chicago goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher (1) to the streaking Francisca Ordega (14), who is just behind Chicago’s Katie Naughton (5) for the Spirit’s goal in the fourth minute play on Saturday at the SoccerPlex.
Next: Ordega, Pugh and teammates celebrate the goal.
Next: Ordega (14) has a goal each of the last three games for the Spirit.
Next: Ashley Hatch (33) provided the Spirit’s only on-target shot in the second half
Photos by Germantown Pulse.