all scores

Controversial VAR call lifts Washington Spirit over Angel City

Washington Spirit forward Ashley Hatch prepares for a penalty kick Angel City FC. (Kiyoshi Mio/USA TODAY Sports)

The Washington Spirit’s controversial 1-0 win against Angel City headlined this week’s NWSL action.

The lone goal in the match came on a penalty kick during stoppage time. After a handball was called against Angel City defender M.A. Vignola — and then confirmed by VAR — Washington Spirit forward Ashley Hatch converted the penalty.

Following the game, the referee addressed the handball, noting that “although the ball struck the body of the defender first, there was a secondary motion of the arm.” The referee also noted that Vignola’s body was “unnaturally bigger” because of her arm being raised “at/above the shoulder,” which gave her an advantage.

Angel City head coach Freya Coombe, though, took issue with the call.

“I’m still confused as to why that that would be a penalty shout and, yeah, the positioning of the arm,” Coombe said. “I don’t know where we are expected to put one’s arm when the elbow’s tucked into the sides and you’re turning your back as you’re clearing a ball.”

Spirit head coach Mark Parsons, on the other hand, defended the referee’s decision.

“We just saw one replay in the stadium, and I mean the hand was up,” Parsons said. “I haven’t seen a great look. They missed some handballs around the middle of the pitch, kept bouncing off hands and they weren’t calling it. … We’ve been educated on the rules. It’s hard for defenders to defend with their hands by their side, you can’t run as well. But we know, we know the rules.”

With the win, the Spirit moved into first place in the NWSL standings. Check out the complete NWSL standings here, and the results from all six of this week’s NWSL games below.

NWSL Results and Scores: Friday, May 12

Racing Louisville 3, Chicago Red Stars 0

Racing Louisville won its first game of the 2023 NWSL regular season Friday night, defeating the Chicago Red Stars at Lynn Family Stadium. Savannah DeMelo and Wang Shuang both converted penalties in the first half, while Parker Goins added a third tally in the 89th minute. The 3-0 victory is Racing Louisville’s largest margin of victory since joining the NWSL in 2021.

Houston Dash 2, Portland Thorns 1

The Portland Thorns lost their first game of the regular season Friday night, falling 2-1 to the Houston Dash. Portland got on the board first with a goal in the 34th minute from Rocky Rodríguez, but the Dash came back with two goals of their own in the second half (Joelle Anderson, Ebony Salmon).

NWSL Results: Saturday, May 13

Angel City FC 0,  Washington Spirit 1

The Washington Spirit kept their undefeated streak alive with their 1-0 win against Angel City FC. The Spirit have four wins and three draws so far in the regular season, good for 15 points in the standings.

NWSL Results: Sunday, May 14

North Carolina Courage 1, OL Reign 0

The Courage were bolstered by Tyler Lussi’s lone goal of the game Sunday to take a 1-0 win over OL Reign and move up to sixth place in league standings.

NJ/NY Gotham FC 0, Orlando Pride 0

There wasn’t a goal to be found Sunday in the match between Gotham and Orlando.  Gotham FC now sits third in the standings, while Orlando remains in 10th.

Kansas City Current 0, San Diego Wave FC 2

An AD Franch own goal (assisted by Alex Morgan) and a tally by Belle Briede helped lift San Diego Wave over the Current. San Diego now sits fifth in the league, while 2022 NWSL runner-up Kansas City has slipped to 11th.