NWSL Challenge Cup: Second weekend recap

Veronica Latsko of OL Reign celebrates her goal.
Veronica Latsko of OL Reign celebrates her goal against Angel City FC during the 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup at Titan Stadium on March 26, 2022. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

The Challenge Cup resumed for the second round of matches on Friday, March 25. Each team played their second games of the tournament.

Here’s how the weekend went:

Washington Spirit vs. NJ/NY Gotham FC

For the first game of the weekend, the Spirt and Gotham faced off at Segra Field in their first matchup of the Challenge Cup. Gotham’s Kristie Mewis made her club debut with a start in the midfield. For the Spirit, Emily Sonnett was sidelined for an injury sustained in their previous match.

Gotham came out on the right foot with a strong attack gaining a corner. The next few minutes had shots produced by the Spirit but many were off-target leaving Gotham with time to recuperate. In the 22nd minute, Spirit forward Trinity Rodman fouled Margaret Purce in the box causing a penalty. Mewis took the penalty and scored giving Gotham the lead and her first goal for the club.

The teams went into halftime with Gotham leading 1-0. Gotham substituted Paige Monaghan in for Kristie Mewis to prevent a new injury from occurring.

In the 61st minute, the Spirit was on the board with a goal from substitute Ashley Hatch. Gotham left Hatch wide open in the box to allow for an easy finish from the forward. Four minutes later, Brooks fouls Purce to pick up her second yellow card of the game resulting in a red card. This leaves the Spirit with 10 players on the field with 25 minutes left in the game.

The game finished 1-1, splitting the points between the two teams.

Racing Louisville vs. Houston Dash

The second Friday game featured an exciting comeback by the Dash. Rachel Daly led the line for the Dash, while Jess McDonald led the line for Racing.

Racing Louisville struck first in the 16th minute, with a goal from Kirsten Davis—her first for the club. Few chances came after the first goal, but defender Emily Fox was subbed out for Julia Lester due to concussion protocol. In the 40th minute, McDonald scored the second goal for Louisville—making the halftime score 2-0.

Coming back from the break, the Dash made two substitutions. Julia Ashley and Makamae Gomera-Stevens came in for Shea Groom and Kelcie Hedge to help kickstart the Houston attack.

In the 56th minute, Maria Sanchez shot a left-footed shot after the ball got sent in from a set piece making the score 2-1. Two minutes later, the Dash found the back of the net again with a shot from Marisa Viggiano to tie the game. In the 64th minute, Louisville’s Addisyn Merrick conceded a penalty that was cleanly tucked away by Daly.

The match ended 3-2 to give the Dash three points.

Chicago Red Stars vs. Kansas City Current

For the final game of the night, the Current came from behind to pull off a win against the Red Stars. Star forward Lynn Williams was announced with an injury, sidelining her for the rest of the season.

The Red Stars struck first in the 22nd minute with a goal from Vanessa DiBernardo, who shot the ball outside of the box to the top left corner out of the reach of AD Franch. The next chance came from Mallory Pugh, but it was saved cleanly by Franch. The teams went into halftime with Chicago leading 1-0.

Kansas City started the half bringing in Kate Del Fava and Elizabeth Ball for Sam Mewis and Alexis Loera. In the 58th minute, Current’s Hallie Mace hit a strong shot from outside the box to tie the game 1-1. Later in the 86th minute, Current’s Kristen Hamilton scored the game winning goal by slotting the ball past Alyssa Naeher.

The game ended 2-1 giving the three points to Kansas City.

Angel City vs. OL Reign

This game proved to be one sided as OL Reign scored three goals compared to the one expansion team Angel City scored. Christen Press led the line for Angel City and Rose Lavelle got the start for Reign.

Angel City came out on the right foot with early chances, but they were all saved by Reign’s Phallon Tullis-Joyce. In the 12th minute, Veronica Latsko’s left-footed shot to the bottom corner snuck past Didi Haracic for the first goal in the game. A few minutes later, in the 17th minute, center-back Alana Cook headed the ball past Haracic with an assist from Angelina to put Reign up 2-0. Later in the 31st minute, Angel City’s Savannah McCaskill get’s a straight red card after a poor tackle on Latsko.

Coming back from halftime, Angelina scored Reign’s third goal after sliding in at the back post. Angel City had few chances but capitalized on a goal by Tyler Lussi in the 67th minute. Simone Charley gave hope for Angel City, but nothing was able to come from her efforts.

The game ended 3-1 with three points going to OL Reign.

North Carolina Courage vs. Orlando Pride

Both teams had similar lineups compared to their first game of the Challenge Cup. The game overall did not have much action, but the Courage’s only goal secured the win for the team.

The first half saw shots from both teams but nothing too dangerous. In the 31st minute, Orlando’s Marta was subbed off due to an injury which was later reported as a ligament injury. The rest of the half had shots saved and blocked but nothing in the back of the net.

Coming back from halftime, the game picked up where it left off with few chances from either side. In the 60th minute, Gunny Jónsdóttir conceded a penalty with a handball in the box. North Carolina’s Merritt Mathias easily slotted the penalty past Erin McLeod. The rest of the match did not see many chances and no goals from Orlando.

The game ended 1-0 with the Courag egetting three points.

San Diego Wave vs. Portland Thorns

The final game of the weekend saw a start from Alex Morgan and Sofia Jakobsson for the Wave and Sophia Smith and Christine Sinclair got the start for the Thorns.

The game started with a goal right away in the 5th minute by Sophia Smith assisted by Natalia Kuikka. The ball was slotted perfectly past Kailen Sheridan who had no chance to get back into position and make the save. The rest of the half saw chances from both sides but nothing that allowed another goal to be scored.

The second half started with substitutions from the Wave bringing in Emily van Egmond and Amirah Ali for Taylor Kornieck and Katie Johnson. Van Egmond’s appearance marks her debut for the club. The Thorns had some chances but they were well saved by Sheridan to keep the score 1-0. Wave’s few chances prove there’s more time to improve for the expansion side.

The game ended 1-0 giving the Thorns the three points.

What’s next

The Challenge Cup resumes on Wednesday, March 30. For viewers in the United States, the matches are available on Paramount+. International viewers can stream matches on the NWSL’s Twitch channels.

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