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Flash win first NWSL title in shootout

HOUSTON – Lynn Williams, the league MVP and goal scoring champion, bailed out the Western New York Flash again Sunday in the National Women’s Soccer League championship game against the Washington Spirit.

This time she did it in the most dire of circumstances, scoring the tying goal during added time in the second overtime period, the 124th and last minute of the game. The Flash went on to win a shootout, 3-2, and capture the championship before 8,255 at BBVA Compass Stadium.

It was the first NWSL championship for the Flash, which finished fourth in the league’s regular season. Washington was second.

Last Sunday, Williams, a Fresno, Calif. native and former Pepperdine University star, scored twice in the first overtime and the Flash went on to a 4-3 victory in the playoff semifinal over regular season champion Portland Thorns.

Sunday, the Flash had to come from behind twice.

Washington got the game’s first goal when Crystal Dunn scored in the ninth minute. Sam Mewis, a clutch performer for the Flash all season, tied it at 1-1 in the 14th minute with her third goal in the last three games. Mewis took a pass from Williams and scored with a low shot from 23 yards out inside the far post.

It stayed tied through the rest of the 90 minutes of regulation, plus three minutes of added time at the end of the first half and four minutes of added time at the end of regulation.

Two minutes into the first 15-minute overtime period, Dunn struck again for the Spirit.

Neither side scored the rest of the first overtime and the 15 minutes of the second. When four minutes of injury time was added to the second overtime, though, Williams took advantage.

Williams headed home the game-tying goal to send the match to a penalty kick shootout. Ten of Williams’ 14 goals (including playoffs) came after halftime this year.

The Flash took a 2-0 lead in the shootout when Abby Dahlkemper and Jaelene Hinkle beat Washington keeper Kelsey Wys. Flash keeper Sabrina D’Angelo stopped Ali Krieger, the first Washington kicker, but Christine Nairn scored to make it 2-1. Wys then made the save on Jessica McDonald of the Flash before Katie Stengel tied it 2-2.

Williams beat Wys to give WNY the 3-2 lead in penalty kicks. D’Angelo stopped a shot by Victoria Huster. Mewis had a chance to clinch it by converting her chance but missed. When D’Angelo made the save on Diana Matheson’s try the championship belonged to the Flash.

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