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Washington 0-0 Gotham: NJ/NY inches closer to Challenge Cup final

Team controls fate after draw in DC

North Carolina Courage v NJ/NY Gotham FC Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

NJ/NY Gotham FC took another step towards the NWSL Spring Challenge Cup Final on Tuesday night, eeking out a 0-0 draw with the Washington Spirit.

The goalless affair was more action-filled than one would imagine for a scoreless draw. For the majority of the match the Metro side struggled to threaten the net of their I-95 rivals. Midge Purce had the best chance of the match for Gotham just six minutes in, unleashing a dart from the edge of the box that beat Spirit goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe, but her effort struck the post and eventually was cleared out of danger.

The second half saw several major chances for the home side to break the deadlock - most notably when the onrushing header of Ashley Hash found the crossbar in the 50th minute. But nothing ever came of it and both teams left Audi Stadium with a point in hand.

The Spirit match marked the return of two key players to the Gotham lineup- with Estelle Johnson making her first start of the season at center back spot alongside Gina Lewandowski, and McCall Zerboni seeing game action for the first time in 2021 after being subbed on late in the match. The veteran pairing should bolster a first-place Gotham side even further in the final match of the group stage next week against Louisville, with Johnson immediately adding a calm, skillful presence to the backline. Zerboni, as well as Allie Long who Gotham acquired on Tuesday, will bring a winning attitude and no small amount of bite that will ensure getting through the paring (in addition to versatile all action-midfielder Jennifer Cudjoe and winter signee Sodam Lee) will be no easy task for opposing teams.

With the win, Gotham FC will now control their own destiny heading into the weekend’s matchup with Racing Louisville. With a win (or a draw coupled with a North Carolina draw or loss), the Metro club will be heading through to the Challenge Cup final, which would be their first championship game appearance of any kind since they won the WPSL title in 2009. The Louisville match will be played in familiar territory for Gotham, who will look to clinch their spot in the final in front of home fans at Montclair State Soccer Park at 12:30 PM ET this Sunday.