Washington Spirit vs North Carolina preview: Courage must insure playoff performance with a win against Washington
Courage must insure playoff performance with a win against Washington

Although the North Carolina Courage away game in Houston this past Saturday was postponed, they enter Week 19 prepared to travel to Maryland Soccer Plex to face the Washington Spirit for the third time this season.

NC Courage goes in for third win

The first match played between these two teams this season was on April 14th at the Maryland Soccer Plex. Midfielder McCall Zerboni scored an early goal in the 18th minute to lead the Courage to a 1-0 win. In this match, the Courage also took 21 shots with nine of them being on goal. Even though they were successful with one goal, they continued to hammer the shots on Spirit goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé.

The second match recently took place on August 19th in North Carolina. This match also marked the 13th win for North Carolina in the season. Rookie forward Ashley Hatch socred in the 46th minute to mark her fifth goal of the season. Late in the second half, the Spirit goalkeeper attempted to clear the ball, but forward Cali Farquharson of Washington headed the ball in hopes of clearing it away from her opponets, but instead the ball made contact with her fellow teammate Kassey Kallman and hit the back of the net to advance the Courage to celebrate a 2-0 win in front of 3,530 spectators.

Forward Lynn Williams (left) has scored five goals this season | Source: NC Courage - Twitter
Forward Lynn Williams (left) has scored five goals this season | Source: NC Courage - Twitter

Where the teams stand

The Washington Spirit currently stand in tenth place with 16 points. Their chances of seeing the playoffs are not possible due to the position that they are in. In previous years, they have made it to the playoffs in three consecutive seasons. This is a loss for the Spirit, but their positive outcome is that through the rest of the season, they hope to invest in forward Mallory Pugh.

For the Courage, they come into this match dominating the first place standing for multiple weeks with the Portland Thorns trailing two points (37) behind them in second place. To insure their position for the playoff standings, the Courage must see a win from this match.

Players who are a game changer

For the Washington Spirit, defender Estelle Johnson has made outstanding performances as she defends her team well and is able to meet the needs of her teammates with her strong and intentional passes. Johnson marks her third season with the Spirit and has started in all 19 games this season. This skilled defender not only defends to bring out the best in her team, but has also scored twice this season.

Hatch is currently tied with fellow forward Lynn Williams for having five goals this far in the 2017 season. Her ability to follow through the opportunities that come her way have created a space for her to see goals reach the back of the net. She has started in 10 matches and has made 16 overall appearances. Her performance tomorrow will positively impact her playing time as she is just 88 minutes away from recording 1,000 minutes within her first year with North Carolina.

The third and final match between the top and last place teams will take place tomorrow night, August 30th, at 7:30 p.m. ET and can be viewed live from the go90 app.