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Courage close in on playoffs with 2-0 win over Spirit

The Courage closed in on a playoff berth and boosted their position atop the Shield race with a 2-0 win over the Washington Spirit that leaves them three wins shy of the Reign’s 16-win season of 2014. Ashley Hatch scored one and the second one came on a Kassey Kallman own goal. The team’s 4th straight win was also its 4th straight shutout giving 10 on the season. For winning keeper Katelyn Rowland it was her 7th clean sheet from 11 appearances.

After a scoreless opening half, the Courage created a second half goal before the Spirit has so much as a solid touch. Center back Abby Dahlkemper began the attack, running it through new Courage midfielder Denise O’Sullivan, and wide right to Kristen Hamilton. The cross from Hamilton went to the far post where Ashley Hatch was waiting to bury the goal to put the Courage in front in the 46th minute.

The second goal, in the 84th minute, came off a corner kick though it was not your typical corner kick goal. Spirit keeper Stephanie Labbe missed it coming out near the top of the 6 and was momentarily bailed out by Cali Farquharson. But Farquharson’s header went off defender Kassey Kallman and in to make it 2-0. Kallman was shaken up on the play but returned to finish out the match.

The Courage (13-5-0, 39 pts) are now assured of being in 1st place at the end of their next match, August 27 in Houston. They walked off the field 8 points clear of the Thorns who were scheduled to kick off late night against the Dash. The Spirit (4-10-4, 16 pts) remain at the bottom of the table. They will host the Red Stars next Saturday at the Maryland SoccerPlex.

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