Gotham FC secured their first National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) Championship title with a 2-1 victory over OL Reign, thanks to a winning goal from Spanish striker Esther Gonzalez. The match also marked the final career game for veteran Megan Rapinoe, but her retirement party was cut short due to an injury. Lynn Williams opened the scoring for Gotham, who had a remarkable postseason run after finishing at the bottom of the table the previous year.
Despite the anticipation surrounding Rapinoe’s last match, she had to exit the game early due to an injury. Reign’s Rose Lavelle managed to score a superb solo goal in the 29th minute, but Seattle couldn’t convert their second-half chances. Gotham defender Ali Krieger, who will retire after the match, expressed pride in their team’s commitment and belief in their abilities.
The game started on a somber note as Rapinoe suffered an injury in the third minute, and Krieger rushed to embrace her former teammate. In the 24th minute, Gotham’s Midge Purce provided a perfect cross to Williams, who scored the opening goal. Lavelle equalized for Reign five minutes later with a left-footed strike.
Gotham had two opportunities to take the lead in the 38th minute, but Purce hit the post and Delanie Sheehan hit the crossbar. Reign had a chance to go ahead, but Jordyn Huitema was caught offside. Just before halftime, Gonzalez scored a sublime header from Purce’s corner kick.
The final moments of the match were filled with drama as Gotham’s goalkeeper, Mandy Haught, received a red card for handling the ball outside the box. With no substitutions left, Nealy Martin had to step in as the goalkeeper. Martin’s teammates successfully blocked a free kick from Lavelle, securing the victory for Gotham. Purce was named the match’s MVP for her two assists.
Krieger expressed her excitement about the team’s experience and the opportunity to enjoy the atmosphere and each other’s company one last time. She was thrilled to bring home the championship trophy.
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