The Washington Spirit are back on track. 

The reigning NWSL champions won their first game since May 1 on Saturday, as goals from Tara McKeown, Ashley Hatch and Amber Brooks inspired the 4-3 triumph over the San Diego Wave.

Hatch sealed the victory with a last-minute penalty kick in extra time, stepping up to the spot before sending the ball to the lower left corner of the goal.

“I was grateful the team gave me the opportunity to step up and put the game away,” said Hatch after the match.

“It was just a lot of relief when Hatchy slotted it in and the whistle blew,” added Amber Brooks. 

The victory comes after a turbulent 2022 campaign for the Washington Spirit that saw former head coach Kris Ward fired amid a 15-game winless streak that included nine draws and six losses.

Ward initially served as an assistant coach for the Spirit but stepped in as interim manager midway through the 2021 campaign following the suspension and eventual firing of Richie Burk. He led the D.C. team to its first NWSL Championship, before being hired as the permanent head coach in December.

But Saturday’s victory put the season of challenges behind them, celebrating three points at Audi Stadium.

“Their celebration at the end explains it all because they’ve been going through quite a bit,” Interim coach Albertin Montoya said of the team. “They had that belief in themselves. Obviously, it’s a very talented team, but that belief and positive energy paid off at the end.”

The victory leaves the Spirit in tenth place on the NWSL table with 16 points and a record of 2W-6L-10D. With four games left in the regular season, it is unlikely the Spirit will qualify for playoffs. 

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