Western New York Flash goalkeeper Sabrina D'Angelo (right) celebrates with head coach Paul Riley after overcoming the Washington Spirit to in the NWSL final on October 9, 2016, in Houston, Texas. (Photo courtesy of the Western New York Flash)
HOUSTON, Texas -- Her team given a lifeline Sunday against the Washington Spirit in the National Women's Soccer League championship game with a late stoppage-time goal, Western New York Flash goalkeeper Sabrina D'Angelo knew what she needed to do next.
"The team did so well to equalize the game," the Canada international said. "It was my job to save the day."
D’Angelo literally did just that, making three saves in the shootout to help boost the Flash to the title. Western New York and Washington had battled to a 2-2 draw after 120 minutes of regulation and extra-time play, before the Flash prevailed from the spot, 3-2, at BBVA Stadium.
Her heroics were made possible after league MVP Lynn Williams scored a dramatic goal four minutes into injury time in the second extratime, which offset United States international Crystal Dunn's second goal of the match in the first extra period.
The 23-year-old D'Angelo out-battled her Washington counterpart, Canada teammate Stephanie Labbé, the country's No. 1 choice. Labbé, who played in five of six matches for the bronze-medal winners at the Rio Olympics, stopped one PK and saw another Flash attempt sail over the net.
D'Angelo, who backstopped the Maple Leafs' other Olympic match -- a 3-1 group-stage win over Zimbabwe -- denied U.S. national team defender Ali Krieger, Tori Huster and another Canada colleague, Diana Matheson. Williams converted the game-winning penalty.
"It's just a gut feeling," D'Angelo remarked of her strategy. "As soon as Lynn scored I knew we were going to win in PKs. Just the confidence and the sureness that I was going to save. And it's funny, one of the players, Taylor [Smith] said, 'You're going to save three of them.' "
Western New York's season had been defined by late comebacks and the final was not much different than many other games.
"It obviously wasn't our prettiest match," D'Angelo concluded. "We fought through the whole game. Washington did play better than us, but we kept fighting and to get that goal in the last [minute]."