In the first week of the NWSL, we saw the league’s 10 teams combine to score nine goals. I chose three important goals from the weekend featuring a picture perfect shot, a finish that signaled a comeback, and a historic milestone for a club.
Rachel Daly makes SportsCenter #Top10 with upper-90 finish
What Happened: Rachel Daly’s SportsCenter Top 10 left-footed curler was the icing on the cake for the Dash as they defeated the Chicago Red Stars 2-0 on Saturday. The English forward received a ball on the ground from the left side before taking on USWNT defender Casey Short. With two dribbles to her right, she stopped on a dime to turn before facing up and firing a shot into the upper 90 with her left foot.
How It Happened: Daly’s finish was individual brilliance. She received the ball in a 1v1 position against Short. Critically, upon receiving the ball, her first touch opened up her body which allowed her to face Short head on. With two attacking dribbles, she was able to force Short to commit one way. Daly’s quick turn was key. Her use of the outside of the right foot made sure Short couldn’t step in without fouling as Daly put her body between the ball and Short. She set up her left foot so that she was able to get a clear look on goal immediately after the turn, before Short could close the space. The technique used in her shot was stellar. From this position, goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher (and Short) had the near post covered, so Daly had to go far post. But, the way she was able to strike the ball so it curved into the upper right corner was perfect, and even one of the best goalkeepers in the United States had no chance. And let’s not forget that Daly is right footed…A forward with the ability to be lethal with both feet is crucial and ever so important.
Not only did Daly’s strike blow up across social media and sports highlight reels across the country this weekend, it also invoked praise from the competition. Red Stars head coach Rory Dames was impressed. “What are you going to do? We probably shouldn’t have let her cut back in and probably could have defended it and kept her out,” said Dames. “But, we’re used to seeing that kind of goal scored by somebody on our team. So, now we know how all those other people feel when she does that to them.” Looks like this Daly strike will be added to the list of great NWSL goals, one we know Christen Press and the Red Stars are familiar with, while usually being on the positive side of that equation.
— Houston Dash (@HoustonDash) April 15, 2017
Leroux wastes no time getting on the score sheet in first game since 2015
What Happened: In the 7th minute of FCKC’s opener against Boston, Sydney Leroux put the ball in the back of the net to score her first goal since returning to the field after the birth of her son. Becky Saurbrunn launched a ball from FCKC’s half to an already-running Leroux in the center of the field. The ball hit Leroux in stride, already ahead of her defender. The ball took one bounce at the top of the 18 and Leroux finished it first time and into the lower left corner.
How It Happened: FCKC only needed two touches to go 70 yards and get the ball in the back of the net. First, Saurbrunn launched a perfect long ball from her own defensive side. She was able to hit Sydney Leroux almost perfectly in stride. Leroux started her run early, getting a step ahead of her defender before the ball was played, kept safely onside by the rest of Boston’s defense. She was in full motion by the time Saurbrunn’s ball was within reach. She split two defenders with her quick burst of speed allowing her to strike the ball off the bounce right at the top of the box. With great technique, Leroux was able to strike the half volley with enough power to beat the keeper all the while keeping the ball low to the ground- a hard accomplishment when the ball is bouncing upwards.
— NWSL (@NWSL) April 16, 2017
McCall Zerboni scores first-ever goal for North Carolina Courage
What Happened: McCall Zerboni scored the first-ever goal for the North Carolina Courage on Saturday to give the Courage their first win against the Washington Spirit. Makenzy Doniak launched a cross from the right side of the field that found Zerboni sitting far post just inside the area. Zerboni settled the ball in the air with a first touch out ahead of her that set up her finish as she buried the ball under Spirit goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe from six yards out.
How It Happened: With play on the far right side of the field, Zerboni kept her width on the left side- so much so that the Spirit defense was unable to mark her while the ball was on the opposite side. Doniak saw Zerboni across the field and launched a cross that found her feet just within the 18 yard box on the opposite side of the field. Zerboni’s first touch was instrumental. She took the ball out of the air with an inside-of-the-right-foot touch that took her into space, away from the Spirit defenders. She was able to latch onto her touch with her left foot, deftly sliding the ball under Labbe, who had come out to cut down her angle.
— NWSL (@NWSL) April 15, 2017
Every week throughout the NWSL season, the Kronick Report will break down three important goals from the week in a tactical and technical analysis of the art of goal-scoring.