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Goalkeeper emergency: Inside the six minutes that sealed Gotham’s first NWSL title

A red card to win a championship? Let Mandy Haught, Nealy Martin, and Juan Carlos Amoros explain the chaos that was second-half stoppage time at the 2023 NWSL Championship

(Rebekah Wynkoop / SPP)

Reporting from Snapdragon Stadium in San Diego.

If anyone doubted the National Women’s Soccer League’s ability to entertain, look no further than the final moments of Saturday’s NWSL Championship at Snapdragon Stadium.

The press box cleared out as the last of six minutes of allotted stoppage time ticked away, an occupational hazard of the up-to-the-second world of media, and the need to move quickly to switch into postgame mode and get to field level.

But as dozens of reporters packed up and stood to watch the final seconds of what looked like (and eventually was) a 2-1 NJ/NY Gotham FC victory and the team’s first NWSL trophy, a 50-50 ball deflected generously for OL Reign, and forward Elyse Bennett was suddenly in alone on goal. Gotham goalkeeper Mandy Haught came off her line and punched the ball near the top of the box. Reign midfielder Rose Lavelle flashed the follow-up shot high and wide of the empty net.

“I thought I was on the line, but, heat of the moment, you don’t want the ball to go over you, so you just kinda have to do what you’ve gotta do,” Haught said.

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