Mallory Pugh and Ashley Hatch each scored as the Washington Spirit beat the Orlando Pride 2-0 in Washington’s home opener on Saturday afternoon. The win is the first of the year for the Spirit and came in front of a near-capacity crowd of 4,989 fans at Maureen Hendricks Field at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, Maryland.
The Spirit are now 1-1-0 after the first two games of the season. The Pride dropped to 0-1-1 with the loss.
Washington didn’t get their first shot on goal until the 58th minute — an Andi Sullivan attempt that was stopped by Orlando goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris — and they finished the game with just three shots on target. But it was those final two shots that mattered most as they scored twice in the game’s final ten minutes.
First up, it was Pugh scoring her first goal of the season in the 80th minute. Hatch won the ball in the air and headed it to Pugh, who was open near midfield. Pugh raced down the sideline as two Pride defenders tried to stay with her. She then hit it between Harris’ legs to make it 1-0 in favor of the Spirit.
Eight minutes later, it was Hatch’s turn, with Pugh starting the play. Pugh got in behind the Pride defense and crossed into the box. Orlando defender Carson Pickett‘s attempted clearance fell in the middle of the area. Hatch pounced on the loose ball, turned and sent it home with her right foot.
“We came out with a great mindset. We needed to win this game and we did that and I’m super super proud,” Pugh told Dalen Cuff on Lifetime after the match.
The Pride were playing without both Marta and Alex Morgan, who combined to score 22 goals last season. Marta is on international duty with Brazil and Morgan missed the game with a concussion suffered last week vs. Utah Royals FC. But the Pride had more shots on goal than the Spirit in the game (4-3) and three of those shots came from Leroux.
One of Orlando’s best chances came in the 32nd minute when Rachel Hill‘s shot smacked off the top of the crossbar. They also had a late chance to tie it in the 86th minute after a flurry in the box, but Pickett’s shot was stopped by Bledsoe.
The goal for Hatch came in her second game with her new team. Last year, Hatch won the Rookie of the Year award after scoring seven goals for a veteran North Carolina Courage squad. She was traded to the Spirit in January.
“We have a lot of young players, so needed a lot of them to step up and be leaders on the field,” Hatch told Cuff after the game. “I think we’re starting to get the hang of that. Each practice we’re trying to push each other because we don’t have as much experience. But I think it’s great because we’re all hungry. It’s a different team, but I’m ready.”
The game marked the professional debut of Spirit midfielder Rebecca Quinn, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2018 NWSL College Draft. She missed last week’s season opener because of visa issues.
In addition to missing Morgan and Marta, the Pride were without Poliana, Monica, Alanna Kennedy and Emily van Egmond because of international duty. The Spirit were without Estefanía Banini due to international duty as well.