Utah Royals

Royals Suffer Narrow Defeat In Spirit Loss

SANDY, Utah (Sunday, March 31, 2024) –  Utah Royals FC (1-2-0, 3 pts, 12th NWSL) suffered its first road defeat of the NWSL season in a hard-fought 2-1 loss away at Washington Spirit at Audi Field in an Easter Sunday matinee.

Having secured its first win of its inaugural campaign last weekend at home against North Carolina Courage, the Royals traveled for its first away game of the season seeking a positive result, ultimately undone by a 10-minute period midway through the first half featuring a dangerous and clinical Spirit effort.

In its inaugural away game, URFC surrendered early game dominance to the Spirit, struggling to contain the combined threats of dynamic Spirit trio Croix Bethune, Ouleymata Sarr and Trinity Rodman, the latter of whom particularly proved a consistent thorn in the Royals’ collective side throughout the contest.

The Spirit eventually got its reward for relentless pressure with a penalty call in the 21st minute, after Royals midfielder Dana Foederer brought down Washington’s Croix Bethune in the penalty area. Andi Sullivan then stepped up and duly dispatched the spot kick with a powerful right-footed effort to the right side of the goal past Royals GK Mandy Haught, establishing the lead for the hosts.

Later in the first half, a lengthy review involving a Foederer play at midfield resulted in a yellow card, avoiding a potential red for serious foul play with a tackle on Sullivan.

URFC continued to push uphill to establish consistency in the contest, punished with a second goal less than 10 minutes after the first. In the 30th minute, Spirit winger Rodman delivered a swerving, lofted cross into the area for Sarr, who rose highest to head home over the URFC defender and past the keeper to double the hosts’ lead.

At the start of the second half, visiting Utah withstood a barrage of Spirit attacks, but slowly and steadily gained composure, pulling a goal back in the 71st minute through a piece of brilliance by rookie sensation Ally Sentnor. Having received a return pass from Foederer just outside the left side of the penalty area, the 20-year-old Sentnor managed to cut inside the defense before rifling a hard and low right-footed strike to Aubrey Kingsbury’s near post and into the bottom corner, giving the Royals hope for at least a point on the day.

The Royals upped the ante in the aftermath of its goal in desperate search of an all-important equalizer, but was ultimately unable to penetrate a determined Spirit defense for a second time, succumbing to a narrow one-goal loss in its maiden road voyage.

The loss puts the early 2024 Utah Royals season record at 1-2-0 ahead of the international break. The Royals next return to action at home against Orlando Pride on Friday, April 12, at America First Field. Kickoff is at 7:30 PM MT, with tickets available at https://www.utahroyals.com/tickets/ 

WAS 2 : 1 UTA


WAS: Andi Sullivan, 21st Minute (Penalty): Washington was awarded a penalty in the 21st minute after Royals defender Olivia Griffitts brought down Spirit MF Croix Bethune in the area. Andi Sullivan stepped up and dispatched the spot kick with a powerful right-footed effort past Royals GK Mandy Haught for the early lead

WAS: Ouleymata Sarr, 30th Minute (Trinity Rodman):  Having recovered possession on the right-hand side deep in the Royals half, Spirit winger Trinity Rodman delivered a swerving, lofted cross into the area for Ouleymata Sarr, who rose highest to head home and double the hosts’ advantage

UTA: Ally Sentnor, 71st Minute (Dana Foederer): Having received a return pass from Foederer just outside the left side of the penalty area, Sentnor managed to dribble past pressure from the Spirit defense before cutting in and rifling a low and hard right-footed strike into the bottom corner


  • Royals FW Ify Onumonu departs from the East Coast tomorrow to join Nigeria’s World Cup Qualifying efforts, returning to Utah ahead of the Club’s next match at home against Orlando, not missing any time due to the upcoming FIFA international break
  • According to Opta, Sentnor is the fifth NWSL player to score her first two professional goals from outside the penalty box, and is the first and only to achieve this milestone with a pair of open-play goals
  • URFC boss Amy Rodriguez made just one change to today’s starting XI from last week’s 2-1 home win over North Carolina, as rookie Olivia Griffitts replaced Imani Dorsey in the lineup
  • Dorsey suffered an Achilles tear in the 42nd minute of last Friday’s contest, undergoing a successful procedure to repair the rupture earlier this week; Dorseybis expected to miss the remainder of the 2024 season


Utah Royals (4-3-3): Mandy Haught; Olivia Griffitts, Kate Del Fava, Kaleigh Riehl, Madison Pogarch; Agnes Nyberg, Dana Foederer (Cameron Tucker 83), Frankie Tagliaferri (Ifeoma Onumonu 46’), (Michele Vasconcelos 90+10); Ally Sentnor, Hannah Betfort, Paige Monaghan © (Brecken Mozingo 73’)

Subs not used: Carly Nelson, Addisyn Merrick, Emily Gray, Lauren Flynn, Mikayla Cluff

Washington Spirits (4-2-3-1): Aubrey Kingsbury; G. Carle, T. Mckeown, A. Butel, C. Krueger; A. Sullivan (Paige Metayer 86’), H. Hershfelt, T. Moyer-Rodman, C. Bethune, C. Brown; O. Sarr (Brittany Ratcliffe 79’)

Subs not used: Nicole Barnhart, Lyza Bosselmann, Anna Heilferty, Chloe Ricketts, Lena Silano, Heather Stainbrook, Riley Tanner

Stats Summary: UTA / WAS

Shots: 13 / 17

Shots on Goal: 6 / 6

Saves: 4 / 5 

Corner Kicks: 3 / 7
Fouls: 11 / 11


UTA: Yellow (Dana Foederer, 29’); Yellow (Kate Del Fava, 49’ ) 11 Total Fouls

WAS: No bookings. 11 Total Fouls