Washington Spirit and Reign FC Draw 0-0
The Reign FC and the Washington Spirit draw 0-0. Photo: Noel Alberto

The Battle of the Washingtons between the Reign FC and the Washington Spirit resulted in a scoreless draw although both sides had several great chances to score.

Reign FC controls first half

The Reign FC had the first scoring chance of the match in the 3rd minute. Danish defender Theresa Nielsen delivered a long throw-in that winger Darian Jenkins flicked to English striker Jodie Taylor with her head. Taylor's header was easily caught by Spirit goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe. A minute later, Japanese international Rumi Utsugi received the ball from a throw-in, too, and maneuvered around several Spirit defenders. She launched a hard shot from just outside the corner of the box, but Bledsoe was able to push it away. In the 13th minute, forward Shea Groom played a through ball to Taylor; however, Bledsoe was faster to get to it.

The Spirit had one of their two real chances in the opening half in the 21st minute. Forward Ashley Hatch dribbled the ball down the left flank and cut inside but mishit her shot high and wide. Their only other chance came from a corner kick in the 34th minute when a header by rookie defender Samantha Staab missed narrowly.

In the 36th minute, a free kick from Reign FC captain and defender Lauren Barnes resulted in a header by Groom that Bledsoe tipped away. Several minutes later, Taylor received the ball in a position where she had beaten the Spirit defense, but Bledsoe  collected the ball before she could attempt a shot. The Reign FC got one last scoring chance in the first half in the 44th minute when Nielsen sent a volley wide.

Aubrey Bledsoe had a terrific match for the Washington Spirit, making nine saves. Photo: www.twitter.com/NWSL
Aubrey Bledsoe had a terrific match for the Washington Spirit, making nine saves. Photo: Noel Alberto

Momentum swings toward Spirit in second half

The Spirit opened the second half on the front foot. In the 48th minute, halftime substitute Cheyna Matthews dribbled a great distance up the field and crossed the ball to captain Andi Sullivan whose one-time shot was parried away by Reign FC goalkeeper Michelle Betos. Three minutes later, Hatch again moved the ball up the left side of the field and cut inside but this time her shot ended up in the gloves of Betos. Shortly after coming on as a substitute in the 66th minute, Australian debutante Chloe Logarzo found herself with sufficient space outside the box to take a shot but it went wide.

The Reign came dangerously close to finding the net in the 71st minute. Nielsen played a pass to Taylor running at the goal. Taylor got a foot on the ball to redirect it into the net, and it went through the legs of Bledsoe. However, her quick reaction allowed her to avoid making what would have been a costly mistake.

Then, in the 81st minute, Williams again dribbled the ball from the middle of the field toward the goal but her low shot just missed the bottom left corner.

The Reign did press hard in the last several minutes. Off a corner kick in the 85th minute, rookie sensation Bethany Balcer took a shot in traffic that Bledsoe miraculously was able to react to and deflect. Matthews was called for a handball just outside the box a minute later. Australian international Elise Kellond-Knight took the resulting free kick. She was able to curl it around the wall, but Bledsoe tipped it away from the goal.

In the 90th minute, Matthews made one great sprint down the pitch but in the end, her shot was deflected out by Barnes.

The Spirit (1-1-1) travel to New Jersey next Saturday, and the Reign FC (0-1-3) have a bye week.