Reporting from Snapdragon Stadium in San Diego, California.
During NJ/NY Gotham FC’s final meeting on Friday, one day before the NWSL Championship, head coach Juan Carlos Amoros and his staff did a brief recap of the club’s Aug. 19 match at Snapdragon Stadium. Gotham beat the Wave 2-1 that night but lost Abby Smith and McCall Zerboni to season-ending injuries. Gotham were out of sub windows when Smith went down so Nealy Martin threw on a keeper shirt, borrowed some gloves, and saw the match out. No one in the room would have thought that to win at Snapdragon again the next day, it would take another goalkeeper cameo from Martin to close out another 2-1 win, this one for the National Women’s Soccer League’s ultimate prize.
“I can’t believe,” Amoros said, “that after saying that yesterday, that Mandy (Haught) gets sent off in the 95th minute and Nealy Martin had to finish the championship in goal for us to win it. That is like you write a script of a music, and it doesn’t happen.”
Except it did happen. A night that started with the shocking and sad injury to Megan Rapinoe ended with Haught handling the ball outside her area and with Gotham out of sub windows, another cameo from Martin in goal. The win gave Gotham its first NWSL Championship a year after finishing at the bottom of the table, and five years after coming perilously close to a winless season. It also sent captain Ali Krieger out a champion in what was her final soccer match.
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