Kelley O'Hara gives Washington Spirit first ever NWSL crown

Trinity Rodman shone and set up the winner for London 2012 Olympic champ O'Hara as the Spirit beat Chicago Red Stars 2-1 in extra time.

By Ken Browne
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Washington Spirit are National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) champions for the first time after a 2-1 win over Chicago Red Stars on Saturday (20 November).

London 2012 Olympic champ Kelley O'Hara was the hero in extra time, heading home a superb Trinity Rodman cross with the past, present and future of the USWNT on display in Louisville, Kentucky.

Rachel Hill gave Washington the lead five minutes into first-half injury time.

But Chicago drew level midway through the second half as Andi Sullivan converted a penalty won by Tara McKeown .

It was a tight match with some good saves in the first half by Washington keeper Aubrey Bledsoe and her opposite number Cassie Miller.

Much of the talk before the game focused on the Spirit attack led by 2021 NWSL Golden Boot winner Ashley Hatch, who scored 10 times this season, and 2021 NWSL rookie of the year Rodman.

Chicago set up to nullify that double threat and kept the two Washington stars quiet in the first half, but Rodman worked her way into the game in the second half, engineering space and smashed the woodwork with a rocket from outside the box in the 61st minute.

As the game went into extra time, Rodman turned it on and looked threatening every time she got on the ball.

The 19-year-old daughter of basketball star Dennis showed again that she is a special talent, and should have a bright future as a creative force in the national team for years to come.

Rodman deserved a goal but will settle for the assist that helped win this match. She controlled a pass beautifully, made space and whipped in a cross for O'Hara to loop a header over Red Stars' keeper Miller.

But O'Hara wasn't the only hero for DC as Bledsoe, celebrating her 30th birthday, came up with two massive saves.

First she dived to her right to keep out Makenzy Doniak on a one-on-one, then just managed to tip Arin Wright's left-footed effort over the bar.

Minutes later the Spirit were champions.

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