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Emily Sonnett on Spirit’s COVID-19 forfeits: ‘I was really angry’

(Jeremy Reper/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

Emily Sonnett opens up about the Washington Spirit’s drama-filled 2021 season on the latest episode of The Players’ Pod with teammate and host Kelley O’Hara.

Sonnett joined fellow Spirit players Andi Sullivan and Trinity Rodman for a conversation revisiting the club’s September forfeits against OL Reign and the Portland Thorns. The Spirit were forced to swallow two 3-0 losses and were fined for violating the league’s COVID-19 protocols.

“I was really angry about that,” Sonnett told O’Hara. “Not a lot of answers. We were asking questions, and not a lot of answers were being given to us.”

To make matters worse, the Reign and Thorns were the two teams above Washington in the league standings at the time, a fact that stuck with Sonnett.

“Was it fair? I’ll never know,” the defender said.

Sullivan was also upset by the forfeits, telling O’Hara that she was “pissed.”

“It felt like we were being made an example of because things were contentious with the league and the Spirit,” she said. “I felt like we could just be bullied at that point, and it felt like we were being ganged up on.”

The perceived lack of transparency from the league is what bothered the players the most.

“Even if it was fair, I felt like there wasn’t clear communication why there had to be two forfeits,” Sonnett said.

While challenging in the moment, the forfeits actually ended up bringing the team closer together. They didn’t lose a single game the rest of the season, advancing all the way to the NWSL championship, where they defeated the Chicago Red Stars for the franchise’s first title.

“People could have been pissed at each other, and no one held it against each other,” Sullivan said. “I think a lot of other teams would’ve rolled over and played dead after two forfeits and all the other frustrations.”

Listen to the full episode of The Players’ Pod for more from Rodman, Sullivan and Sonnett on their landmark NWSL season.