NWSL: Western New York Flash Win NWSL Championship

The National Women’s Soccer League’sย Western New York Flash win their first-ever NWSL Championship on penalties following 2-2 draw with Washington Spirit.

It took 120 minutes of soccer and a dramatic penalty shootout, but the Western New York Flash lifted their first NWSL Championship on Sunday night. The win makes the Flash only the third team to win the trophy in the NWSL’s short history.

However, after the opening nine minutes of soccer, it looked more likely that the Washington Spirit would be the team to receive that honor.

Just nine minutes into the match, Washington’s Megan Oyster’s long ball found Crystal Dunn in space. The Flash’s goalkeeper, Sabrina D’Angelo charged out of here area in an attempt to play the ball out of danger. However, Dunn beat D’Angelo to the ball and shot from a ridiculous angle to make the score 1-0 to the Spirit.

The Flash took just five minutes to equalize. NWSL joint-top goal scorer Lynn Williams found Samantha Mewis at the top of the 18-yard box. The Spirit’s defenders gave her plenty of space and Mewis’ low shot squirted past goalkeeper Kelsey Wys to level the score at one.

From there the NWSL Championship game was a stalemate with neither team wanting to make a mistake. With little action happening for the remainder of the 90 minutes, neither goalkeeper was truly tested.

However, once the match got into extra-time, things began to open up again. Shortly after the overtime period began, Washington were once again on top. Ali Krieger found the feet of Dunn, who had plenty of time to get her left-footed shot off. D’Angelo had no chance of stopping Dunn’s shot, giving her two goals in the championship match.

The Spirit looked like they were on their way to the NWSL title, however, Western New York weren’t finished. Minutes later Mewis tested Wys from 20-yards out, but the goalkeeper was up to the challenge.

Down at the other end, Krieger nearly put the Spirit up two goals with a lovely side-footed volley. D’Angelo made the diving save to keep things close.

With five minutes left in extra-time, Mewis again had a chance to draw the two teams level. However, she was unable to get enough power into her shot, allowing Wys to gather it easily.

The Flash would get their rewards for attacking soccer in the fourth minute of stoppage-time. Jessica McDonald’s hopeful cross into the box found Williams’ head as she out jumped her marker. Wys foolishly came to punch the ball as well, giving Williams a near open net. The last gasp goal made the score 2-2, forcing penalty kicks.

In the penalty shootout, D’Angelo was nearly unstoppable. The Western New York goalkeeper saved three of Washington’s five penalty kicks. Her heroics not only made amends for her mistake in the opening minutes of the match, but it landed her the game’s Most Valuable Player trophy.

Western New York, who didn’t make the playoffs in 2014 or 2015, are now the NWSL Champions after the league’s 20-match season. The Flash were NWSL Championship runners-up in 2013. However, the team have now gone one further, lifting the most important trophy in United States’ women’s domestic soccer.

Drew Farmer
I am a freelance journalist and author currently living in Manchester, England. Originally from the USA, I have written about sports and travel for years.I have written for Hopeless Football Romantic magazine, The Football Pink magazine, World Soccer Talk, Sports Collectors Daily, Forza Italian Football and many more. My debut book Soccer Travels was released in spring 2016, and details travelling to soccer matches around the globe. It can be purchased on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.