The Washington Spirit faced off against Gotham FC in the NWSL regular season on Sunday evening at Audi Field in Washington, D.C. in front of a crowd of over 11,000.
The two teams entered the match sitting in fifth and fourth, respectively, with a chance to climb to the top of the NWSL standings with a win.
It was a raucous crowd on the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend, and the fans got their money’s worth with a great match, but left with mixed feelings after witnessing a 1-1 draw.
“The first half, we weren’t good enough,” said Spirit Head Coach Mark Parsons, following the match. “Second half, I felt like we were the only team that was going to win.”
It was Gotham that came out with energy and it was the away side that opened up the scoring with a beautiful goal from Bruninha in the 23’ minute.
Just her second goal of the season, it was a terrific shot from outside the box that Washington Goalkeeper Aubrey Kingsbury had no chance at saving as it tipped off the crossbar and in.
The Spirit had some chances over the final 20 minutes of the opening half, but Gotham took its 1-0 lead into the locker room as rain began to fall in D.C.
With the rain subsiding for the second half, Gotham came out energized and imposing, dominating the opening minutes out of the locker room.
In the 55th minute, Gotham scored its second goal to take a 2-0 lead, coming off a corner and pinballing into the net.
The Spirit celebrate the equalizing goal in the 69th minute of Sunday's match / Photo: Washington Spirit
However, the video assistant referee (VAR) was called into action to check a possible handball, which was discovered and therefore disallowing the goal moments later.
From there, the Spirit seized all momentum and equalized just ten minutes after the goal was disallowed.
Coming off a corner kick, Washington’s Paige Metayer headed in her second goal of the season for the equalizer, tying the game at 1-1.
“Hatchy [Ashely Hatch] played a great ball,” said Metayer after the game.
Over the final 20 minutes of the game, Washington searched desperately for a winning goal, which would have vaulted them into first place in the NWSL.
Despite many chances, that goal would never come for Washington and the Spirit left Audi Field with a 1-1 draw.
With the result, Gotham vaults to first in the NWSL with 17 points, with four teams, including Washington, sitting tied for second place with 16 points.
It’s early, but the 2023 title race is on in the NWSL.