Sanchez, Rodriguez Win NWSL Championship
UCLA alumnae Ashley Sanchez (2017-19) and Karina Rodriguez (2017-20) won the 2021 NWSL Championship with the Washington Spirit, as the Spirit came from behind to beat the Chicago Red Stars 2-1 in overtime in the championship match Saturday.
Sanchez started in midfield for the Spirit and played 88 minutes, taking two shots. During the season, she scored five goals, including the game-winning goal that sent the Spirit into the championship game, and played in all 25 games with 24 starts. Rodriguez, who joined the team in June following the Bruins' spring season, played in four games.
That Championship Spirit 🤩 pic.twitter.com/QL7oTSt5GW
— National Women's Soccer League (@NWSL) November 20, 2021
Chicago had three UCLA alumnae on its runner-up squad – Sarah Woldmoe (2011-14), Zoey Goralski (2014-17) and Mal Pugh (spring 2017). Woldmoe and Pugh started for the Red Stars, with Woldmoe playing the full 120 and league MVP runner-up Pugh playing 45.
The Spirit earned the No. 3 seed in the playoffs after finishing with an 11-6-7 regular season record. They beat the North Carolina Courage, 1-0, in the quarterfinals before downing No. 2 seed OL Reign in the semifinals, 2-1. This is Washington's first NWSL title in two championship appearances (2016).
This is third consecutive NWSL championship won by teams with UCLA alumnae. The North Carolina Courage won in 2018 with Abby Dahlkemper, Darian Jenkins, Sam Mewis, Katelyn Rowland and McCall Zerboni and then won again in 2019 with all but Jenkins returning.