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Spirit’s Amber Brooks talks ‘relief’ after ending 16-game drought

Washington Spirit forward Ashley Hatch (33) scores the game winning goal on a penalty kick in extra time during action against the San Diego Wave at Audi Field. (Photo by Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

The Washington Spirit won their first game since May 1 on Saturday, snapping a 16-game regular-season winless streak with the team’s thrilling 4-3 victory over the San Diego Wave.

Ashley Hatch notched the game-winner, slotting home a penalty kick in extra time to seal the game for the Spirit.

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

“It was just a lot of relief when Hatchy slotted it in and the whistle blew,” Amber Brooks said of the team’s winning effort.

The defender notched a pair of first-half goals herself, helping to put the Spirit up 3-1 ahead of the half.

The Wave, however, came out of the break determined, and with the help of Alex Morgan, San Diego managed to work their way back into the game.

The veteran striker notched her first goal in the 57th minute, burying a shot from the spot, before heading in her 15th goal of the regular season to equalize in the 82nd minute.

Morgan is now three goals shy of tying Sam Kerr’s NWSL regular season scoring record of 18.

For a moment, it looked as though Washington had once again blown a substantial lead late in the game, but Hatch’s walk-off PK salvaged a much-needed win for Washington.

“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.”

Saturday’s victory marked Montoya’s debut with the Spirit, with the interim coach replacing former head coach Kris Ward, who was fired in August.

A vibrant crowd of 10,158 packed Audi field, including Doug Emhoff, the husband of Vice President Harris, who cheered on the Spirit.

Washington will look to continue their winning ways when they take on Gotham FC, who is eliminated from postseason contention, on Saturday.