Sunday’s National Women’s Soccer League final put the finishing touches on a wild 2016 NWSL playoffs in which all three playoff games went into extra time. With the matched tied 2-2 after extra time, penalty kicks where needed to decide the outcome between the Western New York Flash and the Washington Spirit.
The scoring started early on as the Washington Spirit scored their first goal in the ninth minute. Five minutes later, the WNY Flash returned the favor and scored their opening goal.
No other goals were scored over the course of 90 minutes. Crystal Dunn encouraged her team to keep fighting as she scored the first goal in extra time in the 92nd minute. Dunn’s goal became the fastest extra time goal in NWSL history.
That's TWO incredible finishes for @crysdunn_19! @WashSpirit captain @alikrieger with the assist for 2-1 lead. #WASvWNY #NWSLChampionship pic.twitter.com/091WXFqTif— NWSL (@NWSL) October 9, 2016
The Spirit held onto the lead until Lynn Williams scored off a header to tie the game in the 124th minute. WNY’s last-minute goal forced the match into penalty kicks.
WATCH @lynnraenie's amazing last-minute game-tying goal that took the game into PKs!Congrats, @WNYFlash: 2016 #NWSL Champions! pic.twitter.com/0UoJ4ZPZTe
— NWSL (@NWSL) October 10, 2016
The shoot out did not favor either team, making it difficult for anyone to predict the end result. Sabrina D’Angelo, Western New York's goalkeeper, was named the MVP for the 2016 NWSL Championship after saving three penalties.
The thrilling match ended happily for the Flash as they won the shootout (3-2) and became the 2016 NWSL Champions! It was a frustrating loss for the Spirit after taking the lead on two separate times.
Paul Riley, head coach of the Flash, was able to join his team on the field after having to watch the game from a box seat following an incident that caused him to get ejected from the semi-finals. Riley received an automatic one-game suspension after an inappropriate interaction with the referee on October 2nd.
Abby Dahlkemper, Jaelene Hinkle and Williams scored for WNY during the shootout. The WNY players celebrate their comeback and well-deserved win, making it the Flash’s first title in NWSL club history.