Strong Start Lifts Spirit to Three Crucial Road Points Against Racing Louisville FC

Washington Spirit Announces Official Preseason Roster

May 10, 2024 – National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL)
Washington Spirit News Release

Louisville, Ky. – The Spirit grinded out a gritty road victory against Racing Louisville FC, 2-1, bringing the Spirit to a league-high 18 points on the season.

In each of the team’s three losses this season, the Spirit conceded goals early. So, heading into the match, the mission for the Spirit was clear: be the dominant team early.

Midfielder Croix Bethune solved that issue. In what would be the fourth goal of her rookie season, Bethune put away a ball off of corner service from Andi Sullivan. With eight goals + assists through nine matches this season, Bethune ranks first not only in the NWSL this season among rookies, but first among rookies through this point of the season in Spirit club history – the next closest was Trinity Rodman with four.

The fifth-minute goal (4:09) is the fastest Spirit goal this season and only the 15th Spirit goal within the first five minutes of action since 2013 and the second since 2021. The most recent such occurrence also came against Racing Louisville FC when Trinity Rodman scored in the second minute in June 2023.

The momentum of the game hung in the balance after a VAR review determined that Racing drew a foul inside the box, earning a penalty kick in the 20th minute. Aubrey Kingsbury shut down this moment of hope for the Louisville crowd, denying the Savannah DeMelo penalty and subsequent rebound shot. Kingsbury is now tied for third in NWSL regular season history with six penalty kick saves.

In the 34th, the Spirit doubled the lead when Louisville conceded an own goal off a chance created by Ouleye Sarr. The goal marked the third goal in the last fifteen minutes of the first half for the Spirit, the most in the NWSL.

Closing out the half, the teams battled back-and-forth in a highly physical matchup. The Spirit nearly added a third from Ashley Hatch in the 44th minute, but Racing Louisville cut the lead in half off a world-class set piece from DeMelo in stoppage time.

The outset of the second half saw an increase in physicality as both teams racked up fouls, including Hal Hershfelt and the Spirit bench who earned yellows in the 53rd and 57th minutes, respectively.

By the 76th minute, the Spirit had used all of its substitutes while Louisville had only replaced one player. The lineups remained the same even through eight minutes of stoppage time. After some intense jockeying, the match ultimately remained at its 2-1 halftime…

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