The Washington Spirit celebrate winning the NWSL title. (Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports)

Despite a scandal that had its head coach fired, the Washington Spirit found itself at the National Women’s Soccer League summit, capturing its first league title on Nov. 20.

Kelley O’Hara scored in extratime to Washington to a 2-1 victory over the Chicago Red Stars at Lynn Family Stadium in Louisville, Ken.

The Spirit’s triumph had to be sweeter, because it was besieged with several off-the-field problems and headaches this year, including the dismissal of head coach Richie Burke, amid abuse allegations. Burke was fired for cause after a league investigation into what it said was “serious allegations” about the conduct of certain members of the team’s organization concerning the circuit’s anti-harassment policy.

Kris Ward was named interim coach and directed the squad into the NWSL final (he was named fulltime head coach on Dec. 20).

O’Hara, a regular on the U.S. women’s national team, headed the ball home seven minutes into extratime to snap a 1-1 tie as Washington made sure it stood up for the final game.

The opening 45 minutes remained a cagey affair. Chicago was hit with an early blow as captain Vanessa DiBernardo was forced out due to a 12th-minute injury.

Mallory Pugh left the pitch through injury leaving the Red Stars with 10 players for a short time, but Chicago found the net when Rachel Hill tallied on a back post header in the fifth minute of first-half stoppage time.

The momentum shifted to the Spirit in the second half and its aggressiveness paid off as Andi Sullivan converted a penalty kick in the 67th minute after Tara McKeown was fouled by Tierna Davidson.

The Spirit (11-7-6, 39 points) finished in third place during the regular season behind first-place Portland Thorns FC (13-6-5, 44) and OL Reign (13-8-3, 42) before it made its playoff push.

Washington defeated the North Carolina Courage in the quarterfinals, 1-0, on Nov. 7 before besting the OL Reign on the road, 2-1, in the semifinals on Nov. 14, setting the stage for the final.

The Spirit captured its share of postseason honors. Goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe was named the NWSL goalkeeper of the year, while forward Trinity Rodman, a key figure in the championship game, took home league rookie of the year honors.

Ashley Hatch, who went on to score a pair of early goals in two matches with the U.S. women’s national team against Australia, and Rodman were named to the NWSL Best XI first team.