Spirit beat Red Stars to win first NWSL championship

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Nov 20 (Reuters) – Washington Spirit’s Kelley O’Hara headed house in additional time as they defeated the Chicago Red Stars 2-1 to win their first National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) championship in Louisville, Kentucky, on Saturday.

O’Hara latched onto a protracted go from rookie Trinity Rodman to rating her first purpose of the season previous Red Stars keeper Cassie Miller in entrance of 10,360 followers at Lynn Family Stadium.

The scrappy Red Stars created alternatives however had been hampered by the absence of key gamers corresponding to Kealia Watt, who was damage within the semi-final, and Mallory Pugh, who went off on the finish of the first half injured.

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Red Stars broke the impasse simply earlier than the interval when Arin Wright floated a cross to Rachel Hill, who headed house.

The Spirit drew stage within the 67th minute when captain Andi Sullivan’s penalty rolled previous the outstretched arm of Miller.

After O’Hara’s header handed the Spirit a 2-1 lead within the sixth minute of additional time, Aubrey Bledsoe proved why she was named Goalkeeper of the Year when she made a diving save to preserve out a point-blank shot by Makenzy Doniak to protect the lead.

It has been a tumultuous season for the Spirit, whose coach Richie Burke was terminated by the league following allegations of verbal abuse of gamers that had been detailed by the Washington Post in August. learn extra

“Being together has been our theme since August,” mentioned Bledsoe, who took house championship sport MVP honors on her thirtieth birthday.

“We’ve been through so much, we’ve overcome so much, but we did it all together. We never quit, we never gave up on each other, and that second half shows exactly who we are. I’m so proud of us.”

The Spirit got here into the sport driving excessive, having been unbeaten since September. They defeated the North Carolina Courage in additional time within the quarter-finals and battled again to take out the OL Reign to attain the ultimate.

The championship match closes a painful season for the NWSL, throughout which sweeping adjustments had been made within the league following allegations of sexual misconduct made towards a former coach.

The report despatched shockwaves by the NWSL, main to the departure of former Commissioner Lisa Baird and the appointment of Marla Messing as interim CEO. U.S. Soccer and FIFA additionally introduced they might examine. learn extra

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Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles, enhancing by Pritha Sarkar

Nov 20, 2021; Louisville, Kentucky, USA; The Washington Spirit celebrate after defeating the Chicago Red Stars in the NWSL Championship match at Lynn Family Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

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