Louisville, Kentucky-Kelly O’Hara scored in the 97th minute, and Spirit of washington On Saturday, they defeated the Chicago Red Stars 2-1 in overtime to win the National Women’s Football League Championship.
The championship ended a turbulent ninth season alliance. this Spirit Due to coronavirus issues, two games had to be abandoned this season. After Richie Burke was fired in September for violating regulations, the team played under the leadership of interim coach Kris Ward. alliance’S anti-harassment policy.
This is the first league championship Spirit, He defeated second seed OL Reign 2-1 to advance to the semifinals.
The U.S. national team defender O’Hara, who won the World Cup in 2015 and 2019, scored her first goal of the season. Her header from the defender who won the game came from a pass from Trinity Rodman, NWSL Rookie of the year.
O’Hara called the end of the season as a champion “the best feeling ever.”
“I cannot describe it because of everything we have experienced and the fact that we are ending it NWSL The championship is crazy, very special,” O’Hara said. “I am really proud of this team. People don’t know what we have all gone through. The resilience and perseverance of every player in this team is incredible. “
Mallory Pugh, who did not participate in the semifinals due to the COVID-19 agreement, started for the Red Star team but left the game due to obvious injuries during stoppage time in the first half. Soon after she left, Rachel Hill scored from Alin Wright’s cross to give the Red Stars a 1-0 lead. Chicago defeated the top seed Portland Thorns 2-0 in the semifinals.
Earlier in the game, Vanessa Di Bernardo of the Chicago team was replaced due to injury.
Despite their hard work, SpiritThe list includes Golden Boot winner Ashley Hatch and goalkeeper of the year Aubrey Bledsoe, as well as Rodman, the daughter of former NBA player Dennis Rodman.
“We have overcome a lot, but we did it together,” Bledsoe said. “We never give up, we never give up each other, in the second half, this is our identity.”
Rodman nearly equalized the score in the 61st minute with a long shot.But the Spirit Soon after, captain Andi Sullivan beat Chicago goalkeeper Cassie Miller with a penalty kick and even kicked off the curtain.
The Bulls had a chance to rely on McKenzie Donjak’s shot in the second overtime, but Bledsoe cleverly blocked it.
“Of course it hurts, but I am very proud of the team and the players. They never give up,” Chicago coach Rory Dams said. “There were two chances late in the second overtime and still trying to solve it. I think this is the epitome of the team. Never give up. They never stop. They always believe in themselves and each other, and they play until the end, As a coach, you can only ask like that.”
The Red Star team also did not participate in the game with goalkeeper Alyssa Naich, who was injured while playing for the US team in the Olympics, and Julie Eltz, who was injured most of the season, and Kylia Watt, who fell to the ground with a knee injury. During the semifinals.
After North Carolina coach Paul Riley was accused of sexual harassment and intimidation by two former players, the game was cancelled and the players protested this season. He denied these allegations.
Burke’s dismissal came shortly before Riley was fired for serious charges against him by former players Sinid Farelli and Manahim. After these reports, NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird resigned, NWSL with American football Commission an independent external investigation.
this alliance A weekend game was canceled. When the game resumed, the players temporarily stopped the game, formed a circle in the midfield, quietly showing unity.
Fans of Saturday’s championship game held up signs that read “Sell the team, Steve”, referring to Spirit Owner Steve Baldwin.
OL Reign coach Farid Benstiti (Farid Benstiti) was also fired this summer because he was accused of misconduct in practice.
Next season, 10-team league With the addition of the Los Angeles Angeles City Football Club and the San Diego Waves, the team will expand to 12 teams.
The announced attendance for the championship game at the Lynn Family Stadium was 10,360. This is the second time the championship has entered overtime.
Aired on CBS, this game was announced after Nike announced the extension and alliance.
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