Washington defeats Chicago 2-1 to win the 2021 NWSL Championship


Kelley O’Hara scored the NWSL Championship winning goal to secure the title for the Washington Spirit on Saturday over the Chicago Red Stars.

The Skinny: After a cagey first 45 minutes with not much to show from either side, the Red Stars took the lead in first half stoppage time. Arin Wright beat O’Hara down the left wing, and delivered a driven cross in towards the goal. Rachel Hill was able to beat her defender Tara McKeown at the back post for the header and the lead.

GOAL @chicagoredstars!! RACHEL HILL!

Hill heads in this cross from Arin Wright deep in first half stoppage time (and with Pugh still on the sideline!)#WASvCHI | 0-1 pic.twitter.com/oDa9SXz3zj

— The Equalizer (@EqualizerSoccer) November 20, 2021

Chicago had to make some early substitutions due to injuries, with captain Vanessa DiBernardo exiting ten minutes in, and Mallory Pugh (who was back after missing the semi-final due to COVID protocols) exiting for the second half after taking a knock before the break.

And Washington equalized in the 67th minute, when Tierna Davidson fouled McKeown in the box and conceded a penalty kick. Andi Sullivan stepped up to the spot and converted, though it was close, as Cassie Miller got down and guessed the right direction.

Another close-up of Sullivan’s equalizer, slipping JUST under Miller #WASvCHI pic.twitter.com/JiHjVBMNDO

— The Equalizer (@EqualizerSoccer) November 20, 2021

With things level, extra time was in the cards for the match. In the first 15-minute period, Trinity Rodman – who was extremely dangerous throughout – delivered a floated cross in towards O’Hara at the back post. O’Hara beat her defender, and headed it past Miller for the lead.

Bledsode was forced into action late, when a misplaced header at the back by Washington fell onto the foot of Makenzy Doniak. Doniak tried to place her shot passed Bledsoe, but the Spirit keeper was equal to the task, and likely saved the match from going to penalty kicks.

AUBREY BLEDSOE!! WHAT A SAVE! pic.twitter.com/ZsHpfJ6CaN

— The Equalizer (@EqualizerSoccer) November 20, 2021

One Key Moment: O’Hara’s winner earns moment of the match. Though she was turned around on Chicago’s goal in the first half, O’Hara redeemed herself entirely with her perfectly timed run and expert header to finish Rodman’s cross. And what a celebration!

Picture-perfect first goal of the season from @kelleymohara #WASvCHI | @CBS | #NWSL21 pic.twitter.com/89ohWFr9Dl

— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) November 20, 2021

The Goals:

Chicago Red Stars — Rachel Hill (Arin Wright), 45′ + 5′Washington Spirit — Andi Sullivan (PK), 67′Washington Spirit — Kelley O’Hara (Trinity Rodman), 90′ + 7′

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