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Andi Sullivan of Washington Spirit celebrates with Trinity Rodman after scoring during the second half against Chicago Red Stars during the NWSL Championship on November 20, 2021 in Louisville, Kentucky. Photo: Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

The Washington Spirit beat the Chicago Red Stars 2-1 after extra time in the National Women's Soccer League championship on Saturday.

Driving the news: The victory gives the Spirit their first-ever NWSL championship victory. Both teams have reached the championship game before but neither had won, CBS Sports writes.

  • The two teams battled through 90-minutes of stoppage time and two 15-minute periods of extra time in Louisville, Kentucky, where early estimates say 10,360 people attended the game.

Catch up quick: The teams were tied 1-1 after regulation, but the Spirit pulled ahead in the sixth minute of extra time with a goal from Kelley O'Hara.

  • The Red Stars got the first goal of the game with a header from Rachel Hill right before the end of the first half. The Spirit tied up the game in the 66th minute off of a penalty kick from Andi Sullivan.

The big picture: The NWSL erupted into controversy this season over a sexual misconduct scandal that led to canceled games, the league's commissioner resigning and multiple head coaches — including Washington Spirit's Richie Burke — stepping down.

The bottom line: Saturday, however, was all about soccer. And the Spirit emerged from a turmoil-ridden season on top.

Go deeper: Player empowerment is key to the future of U.S. women's pro soccer

Go deeper

Nov 20, 2021 - Sports

Player empowerment is key to the future of U.S. women's pro soccer

The Orlando Pride Starting XI prior to a game between NJ/NY Gotham City FC and Orlando Pride at Exploria Stadium on October 9, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. Photo: Roy K. Miller/ISI Photos/Getty Images

When the National Women's Soccer League erupted into controversy this season over a slew of assault allegations, the future of the league — and more broadly, U.S. women’s professional soccer — looked uncertain.

Why it matters: The U.S. has had three women's professional soccer leagues in two decades, with the first two each lasting just three seasons. But the NWSL may be on a different path, sports analysts and former players say. That is, if the league and its teams put players' demands and concerns front and center.

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
Nov 25, 2021 - Sports

USWNT: A new CBA and an equal pay fight

The USWNT and USMNT are currently negotiating new CBAs as well, with the men's already expired and the women's expiring on Dec. 31.

State of play: The U.S. Soccer Federation announced in September that it had offered both teams the same proposal in an effort to align them under a single CBA. Complicating things is that the men and women have long had different priorities.

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
Nov 25, 2021 - Sports

Special report: Women's soccer stares down change

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The next few months could be among the most important in American women's soccer history, with significant change on the horizon for both the NWSL and USWNT.

The big picture: Collective bargaining agreements tend to be tedious, and lawsuits can drag on. But as 2022 approaches, that's where the action is.