The National Women’s Soccer League provided some hope for sports that look to complete a season during the coronavirus pandemic. The NWSL has crowned a champion after becoming the first professional team sport to return this summer.
The Houston Dash on Sunday defeated the Chicago Red Stars, claiming its first title in franchise history. Houston had never even reached the playoffs during its first six seasons in existence.
The 2020 NWSL season was suspended before it could officially begin when exhibition contests were halted on March 12. Two and a half months later, the league announced plans for the Challenge Cup, a month-long tournament to determine a champion.
Rachel Daly was named the NWSL MVP before the title game, leading Houston with three goals in the tournament to go along with a pair of assists.
“It’s a difficult thing to do, living in the bubble for a month, and we were here obviously for a month, but the safety of this was second-to-none,” Daly told reporters. “It took a lot of bravery from the players to step up.”
The Orlando Pride pulled out of the tournament before it could begin because several players tested positive for COVID-19, creating an eight-team field. The teams competed in a bubble environment in Utah, which the MLS, NBA and WNBA are currently hoping to execute in Florida.