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Looking plenty fatigued, Spirit drops penultimate match at Kansas City

Current 3, Spirit 0

Spirit interim coach Albertin Montoya saw his team struggle vs. playoff-bound Kansas City. (U.S. Soccer Federation)

The Kansas City Current knew a win Sunday would clinch the second-year franchise’s first playoff appearance — and played like it. A tired Washington Spirit squad was overwhelmed by the Current’s aggression and intensity during a 3-0 loss in Kansas City, Kan.

From the outset, it was clear the Current (10-5-6) intended to apply constant pressure on both ends. The Spirit (3-8-10) was constantly under duress in the first half, turning the ball over in dangerous areas.

“Kansas City did a really good job of switching the point of attack. We just weren’t organized enough. We were a little late to everything,” Spirit forward Ashley Hatch said. “They were just really organized, and we weren’t.”

In the 18th minute, Kate Del Fava sent a cross to the outside of the box that was settled and then rocketed into the top right corner by midfielder Lo’eau LaBonta, beating goalkeeper Aubrey Kingsbury.

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Even with the lead, the Current remained persistent. In the 38th minute, the Current tacked on a second goal. Following a failed clearance on a corner kick, Alexis Loera sent in a second cross that was tapped past Kingsbury at the near post by Cece Kizer.

Only three minutes later, the Current broke through again. Kristen Hamilton, sprinting down the wing, sent in a left-footed cross that Claire Lavogez slotted past a lunging Kingsbury.

“Their offensive interchange is really incredible. They have incredible players as individuals, but the way they play together is very difficult,” Spirit midfielder Andi Sullivan said. “But I don’t think it was anything that we couldn’t have dealt with. I think we were just very flat in our mentality, and it’s very hard to get anything done when that’s the case, no matter what your organization.”

After a scoreless second half ended, the Current had put nine shots on target compared with just three by the Spirit. Kingsbury made six saves.

“I think we’re going to give our players a couple of days out — because they need it. Trust me. They play their hearts out and they’re trying to do their best, but just physically … it was a lot to ask of them today,” Spirit interim coach Albertin Montoya said. “I know maybe every team is like this at this point in time of the season. But Kansas City had a week off, and [the] reality is it makes a difference.”

The Spirit, the defending NWSL champion that was eliminated from playoff contention Sept. 17, closes its season against the Houston Dash at 7 p.m. Saturday at Audi Field.

“We’re just going to get home, recover, get a few training sessions under our belt, get organized and go again,” Hatch said. “That’s kind of how it goes in this league — you got to regroup and go again.”