SALT LAKE CITY — Mother Nature got the best of Utah Royals FC’s road match with the Washington Spirit.
Lightning and weather delayed the match for more than an hour Wednesday evening.
It also kept the goals at bay.
The Royals played to a scoreless draw with the Spirit at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, Maryland, giving Utah its seventh of nine possible points from a three-match road trip that spanned from Tacoma, Washington, to Orlando, Florida.
“We wanted to come for three, and we felt that we could sit in on the break," Utah coach Laura Harvey told team media after the match. "We probably respected them too much and let them play a bit too much. But after the performance and the fight from the past few days, we’ll reflect on that.
"The biggest positive of the night is the clean sheet. A hard away stance that comes away with seven points."
Utah goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart and Washington counterpart Aubrey Bledsoe each made two saves in the clean sheet.
With the tie, Utah improves to 8-6-4, good for 28 points and a tie for third with North Carolina in the nine-team National Women’s Soccer League. The top four teams make the playoffs.
“It’s going to be great to go back home," Utah midfielder Desiree Scott said. "It’s been a long road trip, but it’s awesome that we took some points from these road games. It’s important for the playoff run."
The Spirit (6-7-4, 22 points) out-shot the visitors 8-0 in the first half, but Barnhart made the only save of the first 45 minutes to keep the score level at the break.
Christen Press got free just after the 50th minute and slotted two shots on frame, as well as a cross that found Amy Rodriguez with a chance from inside the box. But Bledsoe was stout, coming off her line to keep the ball out of the back of the net during the stalemate that lasted through the first hour.
The duo teamed up again in the 78th minute, still scoreless, when Press slipped a through ball from midfield to Rodriguez. The striker had a 1-on-1 look on goal, but her shot swerved just high of the crossbar to stay out of the net.
But that was as close as the visitors would get. Washington out-shot the Royals 18-7, but only put two shots on frame — the same as Utah.
The Royals return home Friday, Sept. 6 against league-leading Portland Thorns FC. Kickoff from Rio Tinto Stadium is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. MT on KSL.com and Yahoo Sports.