Washington Spirit wins its 1st NWSL championship after 2-1 win over Chicago

Wynne Davis | November 20, 2021
The Washington Spirit celebrates defeating the Chicago Red Stars after the NWSL Championship held at Lynn Family Stadium on Saturday in Louisville, Ky.
The Washington Spirit celebrates defeating the Chicago Red Stars after the NWSL Championship held at Lynn Family Stadium on Saturday in Louisville, Ky.Joe Robbins/ISI Photos | Getty Images

The Washington Spirit is bringing home its first national championship title to the nation’s capital after defeating the Chicago Red Stars in the National Women’s Soccer League final game on Saturday in Louisville, Ky.

The Spirit secured their 2-1 win over Chicago with a goal from Kelley O’Hara during extra time at the 97-minute mark. O’Hara sent a header past Chicago’s Cassie Miller after a cross from Washington’s Trinity Rodman.

Not only was it O’Hara’s first goal of the season, but at 33 years old, it made her the oldest NWSL player to score in a playoff game.

Though Chicago took the lead in the first half, Washington came back to tie the game thanks to a penalty kick from Spirit captain Andi Sullivan.

The Washington defeated Chicago 2-1 in the NWSL Championship on Saturday in Louisville, Ky. The win marked the first championship title for the team.
The Washington defeated Chicago 2-1 in the NWSL Championship on Saturday in Louisville, Ky. The win marked the first championship title for the team.Joe Robbins/ISI Photos | Getty Images

Washington’s win comes after a turbulent season for the team and the league as a whole. In September, former head coach Richie Burke was fired by the NWSL after an investigation into allegations of harassment and toxic work culture.

Burke’s firing was only one of the scandals embroiling the league this season.

North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley was fired after allegations of sexual coercion from former players. Gotham FC general manager Alyse LaHue was fired by the team after an investigation into the league’s anti-harassment policy. Racing Louisville fired coach Christy Holly during the season “for cause,” without elaborating on the reason.

Additionally, OL Reign coach Farid Benstiti resigned after being asked to step down from the job. National Women’s Soccer League Commissioner Lisa Baird also ultimately resigned after the allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct against Riley were published by The Athletic. Games for that following weekend were canceled.

As news of the allegations came out, players banded together to demand changes to the league. The NWSL Players Association, seeking greater protections for athletes, put together a list of demands — among them, widening the investigation to include all 12 NWSL teams to determine if other abuse has occurred. The league agreed to the Players Association’s demands.

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