Spirit Secures First NWSL Title with 2-1 Win over Chicago

Washington Spirit  |   November 20, 2021
Spirit Secures First NWSL Title with 2-1 Win over Chicago Featured Image

Sam Pittman

Louisville, KY (11/20/2021) – The Washington Spirit defeated the Chicago Red Stars in the 2021 NWSL Championship Game this afternoon, 2-1 after extra time.

A minimal number of scoring chances thanks to stellar defensive play from both sides in the first 45 minutes looked destined to have the game deadlocked at zero going into the half. Trinity Rodman had the best look at the net for the Spirit in the first half with a shot from close range that went just wide of the right post in the 20th minute. On the other side of the field, the Red Stars’ Katie Johnson sent a quick shot to the bottom left corner of the net that the NWSL goalkeeper of the year Aubrey Bledsoe had to lay out to turn away in the 25th minute.

Finally, late in the fifth minute of stoppage time before the half, Chicago’s Arin Wright got past Kelley O’Hara and sent a crossing ball to teammate Rachel Hill who found the back of the net with a header to break the seal on the goalline. The game’s first score was eerily similar to Eugenie Le Sommer’s early goal in last week’s semifinal matchup in Tacoma, coming on an open far post.

Despite conceding a late goal to end the first half, Washington was able to quickly turn the momentum in their favor with a barrage of scoring chances. League rookie of the year Trinity Rodman sent a right-footed missile off the upper left post from 30 yards out in the 61st minute of play before nearly heading home an equalizer on a feed from Kelley O’Hara in the 63rd minute. Dorian Bailey then put a shot from the top of the box just left of the net in the 64th minute.

The Spirit’s aggressive offensive attack forced a Chicago error when Tara McKeown was fouled in the box by the Red Stars’ Tierna Davidson in the 66th minute. Spirit captain Andi Sullivan tucked her ensuing penalty shot just under Chicago netminder Cassie Miller for the equalizer in the 67th minute.

The Washington attack kept its foot on the pedal with Julia Roddar finding a crossing McKeown for a header that went just wide in the 70th minute. The 84th minute saw Rodman find an approaching Ashley Sanchez for a sliding shot that hit the right side of the net.

Heading into extra time, the Spirit’s scoring chances were ever-present. Early in the 97th minute, Rodman sent a high-arching cross to O’Hara whose header had the angle on Chicago’s Miller and bounced into the center of the net to give Washington the lead in the first 15 of extra time and O’Hara her first score of the 2021 campaign.

With only minutes to go in extra time, the Chicago attack turned up the heat and forced Bledsoe to make several plays. In the 117th minute, a misplayed header from the Spirit found open Red Star Makenzy Doniak charging the net before unleashing a hard shot from 15 yards out that Bledsoe stopped with a dive to her right. Shortly after, Chicago’s Arin Wright sent a shot from 25 yards out just over the crossbar and outstretched arm of Bledsoe in the 120th minute.

Stoppage time came and went before the official blew the final whistle of the 2021 season and the first whistle crowning the nation’s capital with a soccer championship in 18 years.


Saturday’s match was Washington’s first win over Chicago in four attempts this season, having gone 0-2-1 heading into the matchup. Next season will feature two more clubs in the NWSL in Los Angeles and San Diego, California, bringing the league’s total to 12. The Washington Spirit will be back in the spring of 2022 to defend its crown.

-NWSL Match Report-

Match: Washington Spirit vs. Chicago Red Stars

Date: November 20, 2021

Venue: Lynn Family Stadium

Kickoff: 12:00 p.m. ET

Weather: partly cloudy, low-50s

Scoring Summary:

Goals 1 2 ET F
Washington 0 1 1 2
Chicago 1 0 0 1

CHI – Rachel Hill – 45’ + 5’

WAS – Andi Sullivan – 67’ PEN

WAS – Kelley O’Hara – 97’


WAS: 1-Aubrey Bledsoe; 3- Sam Staab; 5- Kelley O’Hara; 6- Emily Sonnett; 9- Tegan McGrady (16- Julia Roddar 45’); 12- Andi Sullivan; 19- Dorian Bailey (14- Paige Nielsen 119’); 27- Tara McKeown (21- Anna Heilferty 74’); 2- Trinity Rodman; 10- Ashley Sanchez (26- Taylor Aylmer 88’); 33- Ashley Hatch (7- Saori Takarada 116’)

Unused Substitutes: 17- Kumi Yokoyama; 18- Devon Kerr; 30- Camryn Biegalski; 20- Mariana Speckmaier

CHI: 38- Cassie Miller; 3- Arin Wright; 26- Tierna Davidson; 11- Sarah Gorden; 23- Tatumn Milazzo (22- Bianca St. Georges 90’, 7- Nikki Stanton 116’); 16- Sarah Woldmoe; 13- Morgan Gautrat; 9- Mallory Pugh (24- Danielle Colaprico 45’); 10- Vanessa Di Bernardo (15- Makenzy Doniak 13’); 5- Rachel Hill (4- Alyssa Mautz 79’); 33- Katie Johnson

Unused Substitutes: 28- Kayla Sharples; 14- Zoe Morse; 21- Emily Boyd; 32- Zoey Goralski

Stats Summary: WAS / CHI

Shots: 31 / 14

Shots On Goal: 10 / 3

Saves: 2 / 8

Blocked Shots: 7 / 6

Fouls: 14 / 12

Offside: 0 / 2

Misconduct Summary: 

WAS – Julia Roddar – 101’ – Yellow Card

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