Playing in the club’s first NWSL final since 2016 on Saturday, the Washington Spirit and former BYU star Ashley Hatch needed 90 minutes to decide the match — and then some — against the Chicago Red Stars.
Even after a tumultuous season that saw the team forfeit two games due to COVID-19 issues and playing under interim head coach Kris Ward after Richie Burke was fired for workplace misconduct, the Spirit proved the doubters wrong by even being in the final.
But the Spirit weren’t here to just be a nice story for an embattled league, they were here to win a trophy. And when the final whistle blew, the Spirit were on top as NWSL champions for the first time.
After falling behind 1-0 in the fifth minute of first-half stoppage time, Washington found an answer in the 67th minute, when Andi Sullivan fired a penalty kick past Red Stars ‘keeper Cassie Miller to even the scoreline at 1-1.
TRINITY RODMAN ➡️ KELLEY O'HARA 💥
WHAT A TIME TO SCORE HER FIRST GOAL OF THE SEASON 🤯 pic.twitter.com/9sDm0EYL5q
— Attacking Third (@AttackingThird) November 20, 2021
After the match ended tied 1-1 after 90 minutes, the game headed to half-hour of extra time. Then in the 97th minute, NWSL Rookie of the Year Trinity Rodman sent a cross into the box that found USWNT defender Kelley O’Hara, who headed it into the back of the net for the 2-1 lead.
The Spirit were then able to clamp down to stop any attempt at a Chicago comeback attempt for the remainder of extra time, holding on for a thrilling 2-1 win and a first NWSL championship.
That Championship Spirit 🤩 pic.twitter.com/QL7oTSt5GW
— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) November 20, 2021
Ashley Hatch — A Season To Remember
Ashley Hatch’s brilliant 2021 season came to an end on Saturday, and it was one for the record books. Winning the NWSL Golden Boot as the league’s top scorer (10 goals), she was also named an NWSL MVP finalist and to the league’s First Best XI Team.
She also guided the Spirit to its first postseason berth since 2016, scoring a goal in the semifinal against OL Reign. To top it off, she started and played 116 of the 120 minutes in the championship match, helping Washington win its first NWSL title.
USWNT Comes Calling
Recently, Hatch was called up to US Women’s National Team camp for the two matches at the end of the month against Australia.
She has two previous appearances for the national team under her belt, as well as experience with the Under-23 national side from 2015-18. She will be looking to earn her first cap this month since 2018.
The US will play on Thursday, November 26 at 9:30 p.m. MT on FS2. The second match against the Aussies takes place on Tuesday, November 30 at 2:05 a.m. MT on ESPN.