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NWSL Playoffs quarterfinal round-up

NWSL Playoffs quarterfinal round-up: The Red Stars and Spirit advance to the semifinals

November 10, 2021 By Juan Aguerrevere
The Chicago Red Stars and Washington Spirit will face the Portland Thorns and OL Reign respectively in the NWSL Playoffs semifinals.

The Red Stars and the Spirit both won by a score of 1-0 in their NWSL Playoffs first-round games on Sunday.

Chicago forward Mallory Pugh's sixty-first-minute strike separated the Red Stars from NJ/NY Gotham FC. The two teams faced each other eight times in the regular season, with Gotham FC winning four games, the Red Stars winning two games and a couple of draws settling the remaining two games. However, Chicago rose above Gotham FC despite the history between the two teams this season.

The Red Stars displayed a defensively sound performance and made the best out of their biggest chance. Rory Dames' side found it difficult to complete passes or hold possession, but quick counterattacks were enough to oust Scott Parkinson's Gotham FC.

On the other hand, the Washington Spirit advanced to the semifinals after taking down the North Carolina Courage in extra time. To no one's surprise, NWSL regular season golden boot winner Ashley Hatch scored the goal that separated the two sides.

Washington goalkeeper Audrey Bledsoe and North Carolina goalkeeper Casey Murphy stole the show after displaying inspirational performances in goal. To put it into perspective, Bledsoe faced eight shots on target and Murphy 13. Murphy's 13 saves on Sunday became her record in a single NWSL playoff game.

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