Trinity Rodman (right) celebrates one of her goals. (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)

Trinity Rodman recorded a brace to lead the Washington Spirit over NJ/NY Gotham FC, 3-1, in the NWSL Challenge Cup at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. on Sunday afternoon.

The loss, coupled with the North Carolina Courage’s win night over the Orlando Pride on Saturday night, dashed Gotham FC’s (1-2-2, 5 points) hopes of advancing to the semifinals.

“The Spirit are the best team in the league,” Gotham FC head coach Scott Parkinson said. “I told players if you can do some things good against them, you’re good. It feels painful for them out there, but it will be a great platform to figure out what they need to work on.”

Life looked bright for Gotham FC early when Nahomi Kawasumi nearly scored off a brilliant strike in the second minute, forcing goalkeeper Aubrey Kingsberry to make a tremendous save. Moments later, Kawasumi got the breakthrough score with a shot that just snuck through the left post. Caprice Dydasco broke up a clearing attempt and driving down the right side. After a McCall Zerboni shot was blocked, Kawasumi settled the ball just inside the box and hit a slow roller to the far side to give Gotham a 1-0 lead.

Despite controlling the pace in the next section of the half, Washington (2-0-3, 9) equalized in the 24th minute when Ashley Sanchez lofted a free kick over the wall past a screened keeper Ashlyn Harris.

Momentum continued to shift towards Washington’s side after Imani Dorsey collided with a Spirit player, which led to Dorsey earning a yellow card and having to leave the game due to injury. Despite the increased pressure from Washington, Gotham FC had a great chance to go back in front after some strong work from Midge Purce, who worked the ball into enough space to fire a shot that went off the crossbar 32nd minute.

“We had to survive for a while with 10 players while they waited for the ref to allow them to make their concussion sub for Dorsey,” Parkinson noted. “And that might have shifted the momentum – but that’s hard to measure.

Rodman wound up the benefactor of the missed opportunity, putting the visitors in front in the 39th minute. After an interception, Kelly O’Hara crossed a feed to Rodman, who one-touched a shot from the penalty spot past a sprawling Harris to make it 2-1.

Rodman completed the brace in the 75th minute. Washington capitalized off a turnover, which led to Sanchez making a pass through a sliding defender to Rodman at the six for a one-timed shot to cap the scoring.

Gotham FC will wrap up the Challenge Cup with a home match against the Orlando Pride at RBA on Saturday, April 23 at 7 p.m. editor Michael Lewis has written a new book, ALIVE AND KICKING The incredible but true story of the Rochester Lancers. You can learn more about it or purchase it here: