SAN DIEGO– Gotham FC defeated the OL Reign 2-1 in a thriller Saturday night at Snapdragon Stadium, crowning themselves as the 2023 National Women’s Soccer League champions.
In front of a record-breaking NWSL final crowd of 25,011 in attendance, the New York – New Jersey-based soccer club conquered this year’s league title with goals from Lynn Williams and Esther Gonzalez.
The match’s first goal came in the 24th minute when Margaret Melinda Williams-Purce took on multiple defenders on the right wing of the pitch, delivering a precise assist to the American international Lynn Williams for the first goal of the game.
OL Reign punched back eight minutes later when Bethany Balcer played a through-ball to the American midfielder, Rose Lavelle, to tie the game in the 28th minute in a one-on-one goal situation.
And just before half-time, the Spanish international, Esther Gonzalez, scored a brilliant header at the 45th-minute mark to send Gotham to the locker room with the lead and eventually went down in NWSL history as the game-winning goal in this thrilling final match.
The highly-anticipated game was not only a final to the season but a final to a pair of legendary careers in American soccer history.
Last night, Megan Rapinoe and Ali Krieger stepped on a soccer pitch for the last time as professional players. Heading into Saturday night, it would be a bittersweet ending to an incredible career for one, while the other would experience the sweetest ending to an already luxurious career. As national teammates, both players won the FIFA Women’s World Cup(2015, 2019) and the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship.
Rapinoe received the bittersweet ending of the farewell night, losing the match and hardly participating in the game due to an early injury in the 6th minute. After the match, Rapinoe stated that the injury came in a non-contact manner, forcing her to be substituted by Bethany Balcer and miss the rest of her final career match.
Megan said in the post-game press conference that it’s likely to be a torn Achilles tendon injury.
“It felt like just a huge pop,” Rapinoe said about her injury early in the match. “The worst possible outcome. I just thank god I have like a f—ing deep well of sense of humor. But yeah, I mean, just obviously devastating to go out in the final so early.”
Rapinoe reflected on her overall career after the match, displaying immense gratitude towards the many professionals she’s been surrounded by throughout her career, at the club level, and with the national team.
“I feel so lucky and so grateful to have played as long as I’ve played and to have played with the incredible players that I’ve played [with],” Rapinoe stated after the game. “Every sort of new cycle that I’ve come with, I’ve gotten close to certain players and built relationships and played with some of the very best players in the world.”
As for the grand winner of the night, Ali Krieger walked off Snapdragon Stadium holding the NWSL title up high with a big smile, realizing that the final chapter of her career couldn’t have had a better conclusion.
“This is, like, an incredible moment for us. I’m so proud of the team. We worked so hard, we bought into the plan, we said this from day one and no one’s gonna believe us. But in the preseason, we were like, ‘We have to go worst to first,’ and we were kind of like laughing at first because we’re like, ‘Oh my god, we’re really going to do it,'” Krieger told reporters after the game.