Women’s Super League

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Arsenal beat Spurs in front of WSL-record crowd of 38,262

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LONDON (AP) The first north London derby in the Women’s Super League produced a record crowd of 38,262 for the competition on Sunday when Arsenal claimed a 2-0 victory at Tottenham.

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The newly fully professional side held out until the 66th minute when Kim Little struck for the champions and Vivianne Miedema extended Arsenal’s lead in the 82nd minute.

It was the first time Tottenham, in its first top-flight campaign, had staged women’s football at its main 61,000-capacity stadium, which opened earlier this year.

The crowd surpassed the 31,213 at Manchester City for the visit of Manchester United on the opening weekend of the season in September.

Tottenham hosted Arsenal on the first designated Women’s Football Weekend in England which also saw 23,500 at Anfield for Liverpool’s 1-0 loss to Everton.

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Chelsea opened the season by hosting Tottenham in front of around 25,000 at Stamford Bridge.

League leaders Chelsea were back at their usual home of Kingsmeadow on Sunday. Maren Mjelde’s penalty sealed a 1-0 victory over promoted Manchester United in front of 4,790 fans – a WSL record crowd for a game not played in a large stadium usually used by the men’s team.

Chelsea Ladies sign NWSL superstar Sam Kerr

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Sam Kerr is heading to London.

The Australian megastar is leaving the Chicago Red Stars for Chelsea after scoring two MVP awards in the National Women’s Soccer League (2017, 2019).

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Kerr, 26, has 38 goals in 83 caps for the Lady Matildas, scoring four times in one World Cup match against Jamaica last summer.

Her 69 goals are the most in an NWSL career, and she admits it was a challenge to leave her comfort zone and head to Europe.

“Probably the part that was most difficult was leaving friends and the US because I’ve created such a home there, but it was just time for me to make a change. And once I had my eyes set on Europe, it was kind of an easy decision to choose Chelsea as a club.”

It’s a huge signing for Chelsea, who is leading the table through five matches with an unbeaten 4W-1D record. She’ll join the team in January.

Record crowd sees screamer settle first women’s Manchester Derby

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The first ever women’s Manchester Derby went to the blue side of the city, with 31,213 watching Man City beat Manchester United 1-0 at the Etihad Stadium.

The crowd is the largest in Women’s Super League history, and the group saw a terrific match-winner.

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Scottish forward Caroline Weir smashed in a shot from outside the box, a left-footed arrow that sailed into the far side of the goal.

Weir is 64-times capped by Scotland, with eight goals. She’s played for Arsenal, Liverpool, Bristol Academy, Hibs, and now Man City.

Women’s soccer in England secures record sponsorship deal

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LONDON (AP) Women’s soccer in England will receive record levels of investment after its top league secured a sponsorship deal reportedly worth more than 10 million pounds ($13.2 million) over the next three seasons.

Barclays will become the first sponsor of the Women’s Super League in what the English Football Association is saying is the biggest ever investment in British women’s sports by a brand.

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The deal, which was announced on Wednesday, runs from the start of the 2019-20 season through July 2022. Barclays was the title sponsor of the Premier League in men’s soccer from 2004-16 and still has links with the league.

Kelly Simmons, the FA’s Director of Women’s Professional Game, says the “record, multimillion-pound commitment will impact all levels of the game.”

The Super League, which is Europe’s only fully professional domestic female soccer league, will now have prize money for the first time. A total of 500,000 pounds ($660,000) will be distributed to clubs based on their final league positions.

In another boost for the women’s game, FIFA says French telecommunications giant Orange has become the sixth sponsor of this year’s Women’s World Cup in France.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Two Yanks help Liverpool to second straight Women’s Super League title

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Liverpool LFC won its second straight Women’s Super League title, with two Americans on the squad helping a title defense that unfolded in unlikely fashion.

Entering the season’s final day with the third-best hopes of winning the championship, Liverpool had everything break their way.

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First, they beat Bristol Academy 3-0. Then, they waited as the unlikelihood happened.

From the Liverpool web site:

Matt Beard’s side kicked off in Widnes as the outsiders in a three-team battle for the championship with Chelsea Ladies and Birmingham City, requiring a win of their own and both rivals to falter against Manchester City and Notts County respectively.

Incredibly, it unfolded just that way. Natasha Dowie, Lucy Bronze and Fara Williams struck the goals to achieve the Ladies’ objective before results filtered in from elsewhere – amid jubilant scenes at the Select Security Stadium – to confirm that Chelsea had lost, Birmingham had drawn and the trophy was staying on Merseyside.

No more goals were required as attention switched to other scorelines and, following a tense few moments once their own game had ended, it was confirmed: the Ladies were top of the table on goal difference and they could celebrate for a second season running.

Bronze is a former UNC player, but that’s hardly the only American connection on a team that boasted USWNT defender Whitney Engen for the first title.

American midfielder Amanda DaCosta played in the WPSL before coming to Merseyside, while starting goalkeeper Libby Stout joined the club after a record-setting career at Western Kentucky. And Gemma Davison played with the Western New York Flash and Sky Blue FC.