Sports How Chelsea and Emma Hayes won back-to-back Women's Super League titles
COVID protocol-related absences: 04/25
Each day, the NHL will publicly release the list of players that are unavailable to their respective teams due to being in COVID-19 Protocol. Here is today’s list: Calgary – Josh Leivo Colorado – Joonas Donskoi, Mikko Rantanen New Jersey – P.K.Calgary – Josh Leivo
For the first time in the history of their women's team, Chelsea will boast that status for a second successive season.
On Sunday, they retained their Women's Super League title in style,
What made it even more special is that this was the most difficult WSL title to win yet. Hayes described it as "no doubt my favourite" after the game, explaining: "Teams have invested, some heavily. It's not like the competition was, 'Oh Chelsea have spent all the money and the rest haven't'. No. It doesn't work like that.
The Equalizer's Laya DeLeon Hayes Calls TV Mom Queen Latifah a Mentor: We Got to 'Create a Bond'
"Every time that I do a scene with her, I'm learning and soaking everything up," Laya DeLeon Hayes tells PEOPLE of working with Queen Latifah Hayes, who won an NAACP Award in March for voice-over work on Disney Junior's Doc McStuffins, plays Delilah on The Equalizer opposite Latifah's character Robyn McCall. The CBS hit, which is a reboot of the original Edward Woodward series from the 1980s, follows single mom Robyn as she uses her former CIA background to help those in need.
"I think there were four teams, to be fair, that could have been in with a shout at the title at one point or another. This is the hardest one. The fact that it's gone to the last day demonstrates that."
Manchester City did their best this year - signing World Cup and Champions League winners - but ultimately fell short on the final day. Arsenal and Manchester United dropped off some weeks ago. In the end, Chelsea prevailed, and have now won the WSL a record four times.
How did they do it, then? There are a number of ways to explain it.
There are the obvious factors, to start, such as the fact they didn’t lose to Man City, their closest rivals, in either of their league meetings. Two points was the difference between the pair in the end,
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Consistency is another huge element of their success – both in results, with one defeat all season, and in the fact that they’ve now scored in each of their last 80 competitive outings, a streak spanning over two years.
But the overriding factor in Sunday’s triumph was best showcased by the 23 players who have featured in the WSL for Chelsea this season coming together to celebrate. It is the depth of Hayes’ squad, but also the way that depth has been utilised throughout the season, that saw them come out on top.
Every single player has had a moment this season which has been crucial to this title, be it someone like Sam Kerr, with a Golden Boot-winning 21 goals, or a player like Drew Spence, who has only made two league starts, but acts as a perfect example of the way the depth has been used.
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On Wednesday, she came into midfield against Tottenham for a must-win game. Her involvement allowed Melanie Leupolz, one of the stand-out players in the league this year, to be rested for Sunday and, despite Spence not starting as much as others this year, there was no sign of rust.
Hayes was full of praise for the midfielder in particular this week, explaining how she's more valuable to the team now than she's ever been. "Drew has been with me from the very beginning. She's a voice of reason and she's been in this position more than anybody else in this dressing room," she explained.
The entire squad appreciates what those on the bench bring too. “You've got players who maybe haven't played as much as they wanted to, but they still come into training every day, and they give 110% regardless of what their situation is, or how many minutes they've got," Fran Kirby said last month. "I think that is the biggest game-changer for us this year.”
Jess Carter andare among those to have done the same. Since Maren Mjelde suffered a season-ending knee injury in the pair have shared right-back duties, despite neither normally playing the position. The way they’ve both adapted to playing suddenly more regularly in a role slightly unfamiliar has been ever so impressive.
NHL's COVID protocol-related absences for May 8, 2021
Players in the protocol are: Colorado's Devan Dubnyk and Washington's Evgeny Kuznetsov.Calgary – TBA
These examples are a testament to the incredible levels in training –that Chelsea are trying to emulate. “That's what the environment demands,” Hayes said.
But it’s also evidence of how special this group is when it comes to working for one another. Credit must also be given to their manager for creating an atmosphere that makes players want to run through brick walls for each other, and also for signing the right people – not just the best players.
One of Hayes’ regular methods for preparing this group is by showing them motivating videos of stories around the world, not just in sport.the inspiration came from UFC fighter Rose Namajunas, the reigning strawweight champion.
But the video she’s shown her team that most resonates with their WSL title triumph is one of, well, geese.
“I’ve shown them why they fly in V formations, what its purpose is, what everybody’s role is, how they communicate, how they support each other and, importantly, you fly further together,” Hayes explained.
“That’s the bottom line. They wouldn’t be getting from the winter to the sun without going together. It’s the same for my team. Sometimes different people take the lead but, ultimately, where we’re trying to go needs everyone to play a part in it.”
Hayes deserves all the credit she gets, as much as she will deflect it, but so does everyone who has played their part in a truly fantastic, record-breaking season.
It's not over yet, though. Next up: the UEFA Women's Champions League final.
Red Wings agree to terms with 2018 second-round pick Jonatan Berggren .
The Detroit Red Wings are getting another top prospect under contract.Berggren, 20, was the 33rd overall pick in 2018, just a few picks after Joe Veleno. He stayed in Sweden after being selected and ended up scoring 45 points in 49 games this season, his first spent fully at the SHL level. Impressively, that was good enough to lead the powerful club and actually tied him for sixth in league scoring. As the release from the Red Wings includes, he became just the 13th player in SHL history to record 40 points in a season at age 20 or younger.