Washington Spirit win NWSL title behind Kelley O'Hara goal, Aubrey Bledose save
The Washington Spirit are National Women’s Soccer League champions.,
The Washington Spirit are National Women’s Soccer League champions.
The Spirit defeated the Chicago Red Stars, 2-1, in extra time to capture their first title. The Spirit needed some dramatics with the score tied at one.
Gold medalist and World Cup champion Kelley O’Hara answered the call.
In the 97th minute of the match, rookie Trinity Rodman found O’Hara in the box with a cross, and the Spirit defender got one past Red Stars keeper Cassie Miller.
O’Hara’s score was the go-ahead goal Washington needed to secure the victory, but the Spirit also needed Aubrey Bledsoe to make a key stop toward the end of the match.
Bledsoe saved a shot in the box from Makenzy Doniak in the 116th minute. Bledsoe finished with two saves and was named the NWSL Championship MVP.
Chicago’s Rachel Hill put the Red Stars on the board first with a score in injury time as the first half came to a close. Washington’s Andi Sullivan tallied the equalizer on a penalty in the 67th minute.
It was Washington’s first appearance in the NWSL title match since it lost in a penalty shootout to the Western New York Flash in 2016.
The win marked the Spirit’s 12th straight without a loss. Since Aug. 7, the Spirt have won nine times and tied three times.
Interim coach Kris Ward was able to keep the Spirit on track through the end of the season after controversy struck the club.
Washington coach Rickie Burke was “terminated for cause” after a report detailed verbal and emotional abuse of players. The NWSL later determined the “Spirit and its ownership have failed to act in the best interests of the League.” The ordeal led to CEO Steve Baldwin resigning from the organization and as managing partner of the NWSL.