Should we include the Kastles, who won six World Team Tennis trophies in seven years in a league with only six franchises and a season that lasts four weeks? Or the D.C. Divas, the successful women’s football team?
Wherever it belongs, the four-year-old Spirit has written a small chapter in the D.C. sports history books by advancing to the National Women’s Soccer League final for the first time. The Montgomery County-based club will clash with the Portland Thorns or Western New York Flash on Oct. 9 at Houston’s BBVA Compass Stadium. Fox Sports 1 will provide live coverage.
The Spirit lost in the semifinals each of the previous two seasons. (Four of 10 teams make the playoffs.) In 2013, the NWSL’s inaugural year after the WUSA and WPS went under, Washington won three of 22 games.
“I’m really proud of how far we’ve come and where we’re headed,” said captain Ali Krieger, a Prince William County native who has played in two World Cups and one Olympics with the U.S. national team. “It’s a bit emotional because I can go back and remember the first time we didn’t make the playoffs and were like last in the league. And now we’re battling in the final game. It’s just a really good feeling. It’s really rewarding.”
The scene at the final whistle Friday:
The Spirit roster has local ties. Aside from Krieger (Dumfries), midfielders Joanna Lohman (Silver Spring) and Christine Nairn (Annapolis) and defender Whitney Church (Ashburn) played club and high school soccer in the area. All starred at Penn State. All started Friday. Krieger scored in the 36th minute. Nairn assisted on Francisca Ordega’s go-ahead goal in the 111th minute.
GOAL! Ali Krieger finishes with a driving header to put the Washington Spirit ahead, 1-0. #WASvCHI #NWSL https://t.co/nJDDnMOApR
Christen Press’s late equalizer for Chicago:
GOAL! Christen Press with the volley to equalize. Chicago is now level with Washington, 1-1. #NWSL #WASvCHI
GOAL! Ordega, plus some great team work, has the Washington Spirit up again in extra time, 2-1! #NWSL #WASvCHI