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Spirit, Red Stars Advance to NWSL Final After Semifinal Stunners

The Chicago Red Stars and Washington Spirit will square off in the 2021 NWSL final on Saturday after a pair of shocking semifinal victories in the Pacific Northwest on Sunday. 

The Spirit have played through multiple off-field scandals this season—and are in the midst of an ownership tussle—and yet were the first team to punch their ticket to the final on Sunday afternoon. An early goal from forward Eugénie Le Sommer gave favored OL Reign a 1–0 lead in the third minute, but the Spirit quickly responded. Trinity Rodman evened the contest in the 12th minute as she continues a likely Rookie of the Year campaign, and in the second half, Ashley Sanchez delivered the winning score on an outrageous finish from a tight angle.

There was a touch less drama in the second semifinal matchup as the Red Stars secured a 2–0 victory over the top-seeded, Shield-winning Portland Thorns. Katie Johnson broke a scoreless tie in the 37th minute with a tight-angled finish that found the near upper 90, and early in the second half, Sarah Woldmoe's rocket into the top right corner put the match out of reach. The Thorns were playing without Crystal Dunn, who just announced her pregnancy, and Lindsey Horan, who missed the match with a facial injury.

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Neither the Spirit nor the Red Stars has won a NWSL title in the league's nine-year history. The Spirit reached the NWSL Championship final in 2016 before losing to the Western New York Flash. 

Saturday's matchup at Lynn Family Stadium in Louisville is slated for noon ET. The Red Stars won two of the three regular season meetings between the two sides, while they also played to a draw.

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