- Erica Blackburn
Ashley Hatch continues to inspire her teammates
Ashley Hatch is adored by her coaches & teammates.
“Hatch is the most unbelievable person off the field,” said head coach Richie Burke during a NWSL Live interview on Twitch. “She is just the nicest, best person.”
This season Hatch asserted herself as one of the leaders, taking the responsibility of being the team’s fine collector. She never had a problem collecting her coins. Hatch's teammates respect her too much to give her any static. That’s a good thing and normally good things happen to good people. That's called favor and Hatch has had a lot of it on the soccer field.
Drafted second overall by the NC Courage in 2017, she was named the 2017 NWSL Rookie of the Year. Hatch tied a league record with seven goals in her rookie season and also tallied an assist. Then in January 2018, the NC Courage traded Hatch to the Washington Spirit. A new location didn’t matter because she started all 22 games she appeared in for the Spirit in 2018, scoring four goals and earning the club’s Golden Boot award.
In 2019, Hatch scored seven goals, took 52 shots, 26 shots on goal and earned two assists and had a 76.5 percent successful pass rate. In 2020, she contributed one goal and one assist, added seven key passes and nine shots on target before the season was shut down due to COVID-19.
Which brings us to this season.
Through 13 games, the Washington Spirit sit fourth in the NWSL standings behind the Portland Thorns FC, NY/NJ Gotham FC, and Chicago Red Stars. In 11 games played, Hatch leads the league with 6 goals scored, along with 19 shots, 11 shots on goal and a 80.2 percent successful pass rate.
“She’s a prototypical finisher,” said Burke. “She just scores goals. She’s just in the right place at the right time. She’s a poacher.”
With the next three games against the Portland Thorns FC, Houston Dash, and Orlando Pride, Hatch’s knack for being in the right place will be needed. Though this will be the team’s first meeting against Portland, the Thorns currently sit first in the standings. The Spirit beat Houston in their early matchup, but the Dash are still a team you can’t take for granted. Orlando sits at seventh in the standings, and has proven to be a tough opponent for the Spirit.
Like other NWSL teams, the Spirit are missing key contributors due to the Tokyo Olympics. Hatch will need to help carry the scoring load until the Olympians return. So far, she’s lived up to the billing.
The Washington Spirit take on the Portland Thorns FC at Segra Field this Saturday, August 7th at 7:30 pm ET on Paramount+.