The Washington Spirit defeat the Chicago Red Stars in the 94th minute on a Yael Averbuch strike from outside the 18-yard box for the 2-1 final score.
The Spirit started the same lineup as they did for their win against FC Kansas City, aside from Lisa De Vanna starting in place of Danesha Adams up top. For the Chicago Red Stars, head coach Rory Dames made three changes from the squad that tied Houston 0-0 a week ago. Jen Hoy, Melissa Tancredi and Jackie Santacaterina all started the game in place of Adriana Leon, Emily Van Egmond and Zakiya Bywaters.
The Spirit entered the match in third place with 31 points while the Red Stars were in fifth place with 28 points. The result of this match had major playoff implications for both sides.
In the 4th minute, Red Stars forward Christen Press dribbled at the Spirit back line and found Tancredi out wide on the right side. Tancredi took her time and picked out an open Lori Chalupny, who finished first time in the low corner to beat Spirit goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris.
The Spirit had a quality chance in the 25th minute when Diana Matheson found the head of Kerstin Garefrekes, but her attempt went just over the goal from the 6-yard box.
With six minutes to go in the half, the Spirit had an opportunity through a little confusion between Red Stars goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc and center back Abby Erceg. De Vanna capitalized on the moment, finding Garefrekes in the box, but her shot was blocked by Erceg.
In the last minute of the half, Ali Krieger hit a free kick into the box that found the head of Niki Cross, but she missed just wide right of the goal.
A few big saves by Harris kept the Spirit in the game going into the second half, holding the Red Stars to their 1-0 lead.
The second half started with no changes for either side.
In the 48th minute, Matheson played a ball to Christine Nairn who hit a first-time shot that took a deflection to beat LeBlanc and tie the game at 1-1.
In the next minute, Harris collided with the Red Stars’ Santacatarina going up for a corner kick that knocked her down for a few minutes. She stayed in the game despite the shake-up.
The 89th minute produced one of the best chances of the half when Tancredi got a cross in to Press who headed it on frame to force an impressive save from Harris to keep the game tied at 1-1.
Making her first appearance since May 11, Toni Pressley entered the match after recovering from her knee injury, coming in for Garefrekes in the 90th minute.
In dramatic fashion in the 94th minute, Spirit sub Yael Averbuch ripped a shot from outside the 18-yard box to record her first goal of the season and the game-winning goal for the Washington Spirit.
The Spirit now have 34 points with a record of 10-8-4 on the season and are still in third place. The Chicago Red Stars have 28 points, keeping them in fifth place.
The Spirit play again on August 9 in Seattle against the Reign for a 10pm ET kickoff. After that, the Spirit finish up the regular season at home against Sky Blue FC on August 16.