LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Two signings helped Racing Louisville bounce back from a two-goal deficit in their home opener and post a 2-2 draw with Washington Spirit on a cold and windy Saturday afternoon at Lynn Family Stadium.
With Washington already leading 2-0, Abby Erceg Racing’s first goal of the season scored just after half-time and Ary Borges equalized 20 minutes later with a stunning shot from the edge of the box.
It was the third year in a row – in the club’s existence – that Racing had drawn their opening game at home.
“We talked at halftime about still thinking about winning the game,” said racing coach Kim Björkegren. “We had a great second half, scoring two goals and coming close to the third. That showed good team spirit. Overall I’m happy with the performance, even though we tried to win the game.”
The game’s story might just have been the wind, which lashed between 20 and 25mph over the course of the 90 minutes, with gusts of up to 45mph as temperatures dropped into the 30s. The wind disrupted the game of both teams several times.
“You continue with the tactics and work all week and the wind takes it all away,” said Erceg. “You have to adapt spontaneously. We obviously didn’t do that well in the first half and in the second half we just wanted to score an early goal to get back into the game and we did that.”
Washington (1-0-1, 4 points) took an early lead through Ashley Hatch, with the US Women’s National Team forward scoring the opener in the 17th minute. Hatch added a second in the 32nd minute, assisted by his national team striker Trinity Rodman.
Racing (0-0-2, 2 points) pushed back into the game while actually playing upwind. Erceg’s goal, 52 seconds into the second half, came from a towering header from 5 yards from Wang Shuang’s corner.
“It was a good ball and I happened to be in the right place at the right time,” said Erceg. “I’m always happy about a goal, and of course it’s cool to score points for a new team – even in the first leg, the home game.”
Erceg said Racing’s half-time discussion focused on playing faster and harder. Louisville’s second goal of the afternoon was a perfect example.
In the 65th minute, Lauren Milliet’s cross from the right required a defensive Washington header, but Savannah DeMelo’s pursuit of the loose ball forced a poor second attempt at a clearance from Spirit.
The deflected ball bounced into Borges’s lane and she fired a left-footed half-volley from 17 yards into the top right corner of the goal. The Brazilian’s first goal for Racing is one of the best in the club’s young history.
“Wow, unbelievable,” said Björkegren. “She’s that type of player that you’ll probably see another time or two, for sure.”
Racing now have an opportunity to regroup after the first two games of the season and release for a FIFA international break next weekend. The Louisvillians will be back in action on April 15 in Los Angeles where they will face off against Angel City, a team that beat Racing 3-1 in California last September.
Tap ins: Saturday marked the 50th appearance of the NWSL regular season for Lauren Milliet, who is also Racing’s all-time leader in appearances for the club. … Racing equaled their longest unbeaten streak in club history with Saturday’s draw, extending a four-game unbeaten streak into last autumn.
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