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Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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Washington Spirit fighting for playoff spot

Spirit are training for success

The Washington Spirit (6-5-8) are fighting to keep their playoff dreams alive in the National Women’s Soccer League. With three games left in the 2023 season, the sixth-seeded Spirit currently hold the final playoff spot. 

Staying in the playoff race will be no easy feat. The Orlando Pride and Angel City FC both trail just one point behind the Spirit, threatening to overtake their spot. “We need to get results — we need to win,” starting forward Ashley Hatch said. “We have a gameplan set and everyone knows their roles. When it comes to game time, it’s just giving it our all.”

Only 11 points separate the league’s 12 teams, which Hatch says is a testament to how competitive the NWSL is. “From top to bottom, any given day, any team can win,” she said. 

The Spirit beat all three of their final opponents earlier in the season, but this ensures nothing in such a tight playoff race. Two of their next opponents, OL Reign and the North Carolina Courage, are ranked ahead of the Spirit. 

The team took a huge blow this month with two consecutive losses. A majority of their games this season resulted in draws. Still, the Spirit should not be counted out. They executed several thrilling comebacks throughout the season with last minute goals, which positioned them as serious playoff contenders. 

“We have a lot of attacking threats, so I think just focusing on scoring more goals is what’s going to help us going forward,” Hatch said. She is currently the second-leading scorer in the league and leads the Spirit’s strong attacking line along with women’s national team stars Trinity Rodman and Ashley Sanchez

The Spirit’s backline is manned by the steadfast center-back Sam Staab. She has started and played the entirety of every game this season. 

When asked about the home stretch of the season, Staab emphasized the importance of the team maintaining a positive mentality. “I think one of our big strengths is how well we work together on and off the field,” she said. “It’s something that doesn’t get to be seen on the stat sheet but is really important for teams … when the energy is there, we can be unstoppable.” 

The Spirit will take on the Kansas City Current in the first of their final three matches Saturday Sept. 30 at Audi Field. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.

This article was edited by Penelope Jennings, Delaney Hoke and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Isabelle Kravis and Olivia Citarella.

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