Associated Press
Sunday, November 7, 2021

Golden Boot winner Ashley Hatch scored in overtime and the Washington Spirit defeated the North Carolina Courage 1-0 in the quarterfinals of the National Women’s Soccer League playoffs on Sunday night.

The Spirit move on to play OL Reign next Sunday in Tacoma, Washington. The second-seeded Reign had a bye for the quarterfinals.

The third-seeded Spirit (11-7-6) went undefeated in their final six regular season games. Hatch, who won the league’s Golden Boot award with 10 regular-season goals, scored against the Courage in the 113th minute.

The Spirit last went to the playoffs in 2016, when they finished as the league’s runner-up.

The sixth-seeded Courage (9-9-6) wrap up a turbulent season. Coach Paul Riley was fired in late September after two former players came forward with allegations of sexual harassment and coercion, which he denied. NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird resigned in the wake of the scandal, and both the league and U.S. Soccer launched independent investigations.

Washington had its share of upheaval this season, too, when coach Richie Burke was fired in September for violation of the NWSL’s anti-harassment policy.

In the early quarterfinal match, the Chicago Red Stars defeated Gotham FC 1-0. The Red Stars will play the Portland Thorns in the semifinals next Sunday.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC.