Sullivan Strikes as Spirit Draw on the Road at Reign FC
The Washington Spirit extended their unbeaten streak to a franchise record six games and maintained possession of first place in the NWSL with a 1-1 draw against Reign FC Saturday night in Tacoma, Washington.
The beginning of the match saw the Spirit feel pressure via an aggressive Reign FC press. The Reign press helped them create chances early in the game, but Spirit goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe and her backline of Megan Crosson, Paige Nielsen, Sam Staab and Tori Huster were able to deter the attack, keeping the match scoreless at the break.
At the end of a choppy first 45 minutes, Reign FC outshot the Spirit nine to four, but only had two shots on target, the same amount as the Spirit. Washington’s defense worked to keep attackers off-balance and made it difficult for Reign FC to get a clear shot at the net.
As the second half started, Reign had a good chance countered by an even better save by Bledsoe. Reign forward Bethany Balcer raced down the left and made a pass to the feet of Reign midfielder Jessica Fishlock in front of goal. Fishlock turned the ball on net for what seemed to be a sure goal, but Bledsoe anticipated the play and was able to get a hand on the ball to turn it away.
In the 62nd minute, Spirit midfielder Andi Sullivan finally broke the stalemate and score the match’s opening goal. After receiving a pass from Cali Farquharson at the top of the box Sullivan drove towards the right side of the goal, dribbling past three defenders before driving the ball inside the far post for her first-ever NWSL goal.
On the other end, Reign FC’s Fishlock notched her first goal of the season in the 77th minute, striking a low-ball from the left side of the six-yard-box that narrowly avoided Staab’s attempted slide-tackle, finding the back of the net.
Bledsoe, the current NWSL saves leader, had another strong performance as she finished with eight saves on the night.
With the 1-1 result, the Spirit maintain their grip on first place in the NWSL table, holding a one-point lead over Utah Royals FC. Washington is also now tied for the best defense in the league having only allowed five goals.
The Spirit will return to the Maryland SoccerPlex where they are unbeaten this season to host the Houston Dash on June 22. The Spirit will be hosting their first-ever Pride Night, and will be retiring the jersey of Spirit legend Joanna Lohman.
Kickoff at the Maryland SoccerPlex is set for 7:00 pm, with Gate D and the Fan Zone opening at 5:30 pm for all ticket-holding fans.
Photo and videos courtesy Washington Spirit and NWSL.