The Washington Spirit, the team which was at, or near, the bottom of the standings for the entire 2018 season, are currently the top team in the NWSL and are riding a seven game unbeaten streak. The Spirit are 5-1-3 and have not lost a game since week two of the season.
The Spirit will host defending NWSL champions North Carolina Courage at the Maryland SoccerPlex at 7:00 pm on Saturday, June 29. The Courage are 3-2-4 this year.
Last Saturday, the Spirit continued their unbeaten streak with a 0-0 draw against the Houston Dash on the team’s inaugural Pride Night at the Maryland SoccerPlex.
The Spirit outshot the visiting Houston Dash 12-2 and amassed 63.9 percent of the total possession, keeping the Dash attack quiet throughout the game. Goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe had an easy night between the pipes as the Spirit defense kept Houston from placing a single shot on target.
Pride-themed decorations and merchandise around the SoccerPlex stadium made for a great Pride Night atmosphere, but the festivities were headlined by the retirement of former Spirit midfielder Joanna Lohman’s No. 15 jersey. Lohman, a DMV native and an outspoken member of the LGBTQ+ community, spent the last four seasons of her 13-year professional career with the Spirit, including the team’s run to the NWSL Championship in 2016. She also represented the D.C. United Women and the Washington Freedom during her playing days.
In a special halftime ceremony, Lohman was presented with a ball and pride flag signed by the Spirit players, along with a framed No. 15 jersey with a rainbow No. 15. Following the match, a video featuring messages for Lohman from her former teammates was shown on the video board. Lohman is the first player ever to have her number retired by the Spirit.
The best scoring chance of the first half came when midfielder Bayley Feist sent a through ball into the box in the 31st minute. Although forward Ashley Hatch was able to get on the end of it, her redirection led harmlessly into the arms of Houston goalkeeper Jane Campbell. Feist, who did a great job of creating chances in the first half, also had a shot from inside the box get blocked in the 42nd minute.
Defender Megan Crosson was an impact sub in the second half, entering in the 68th minute for forward Cali Farquharson. Playing further forward than her usual position, she was a creative force for Washington as the team tried to break down the Houston defense late in the game. Her best chance came in the 78th minute, when she finished a run into the box with a close-range shot that forced Campbell into a diving save at the near post.
The result was enough to keep Washington in first place in the NWSL with nine games in the books and extend the Spirit’s team record unbeaten streak to seven games. It was also the first-ever draw between the Spirit and Dash in the clubs’ ninth all-time meeting.
The Spirit will welcome back a portion of the players who had been in France playing for their countries in the Women’s World Cup 2019. Australia, and Spirit midfielder Chloe Logarzo and defender Amy Harrison were knocked out of the tournament on Saturday, June 23 when the Aussies were defeated by Norway.
Logarzo logged her fourth straight start in the Australian midfield. Logarzo returned to the left wing for the knockout stage after a one-game departure to the center of the Matildas midfield. Logarzo logged a full 120 minutes in the longest match of her international career. Harrison saw her first action of the tournament subbing in during stoppage time of the second overtime period.
Logarzo played a complete game for the Matildas. She won a free kick, assisted on a shot, recorded a shot of her own, and overall was very strong defensively as she slowed or stopped numerous attacks by the Norwegians.
The Spirit will also welcome back Cheny Matthews who was playing for Jamaica, but the ReggieGirlz did not make it out of the Group Stage.
Photos courtesy Washington Spirit and NWSL.