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The Kronick Report: What a strike!

In this past weekend’s NWSL action, we saw some beautiful shots from long range. Let’s check three great strikes on the weekend from Naho, Toni Pressley, and Andressinha.

Seattle, Washington - Saturday, July 2nd, 2016: Seattle Reign FC forward Nahomi Kawasumi (36) during a regular season National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) match between the Seattle Reign FC and the Boston Breakers at Memorial Stadium. Seattle won 2-0. (ISI Photo)

Nahomi Kawasumi rockets one from distance, giving the Reign their lone goal of the game in a 1-1 tie against the Boston Breakers in Seattle on Saturday,
(photo copyright ISI Photos)

Naho Kawasumi notches her fourth on the year from distance

What Happened: In the 32nd minute, Reign midfielder Naho Kawasumi fires a strike into the upper right corner to give Seattle a 1-0 lead. Another first half goal, this time from the Boston Breakers, tied the game up and both teams got away with a point after 90 minutes.

How It Happened: Although I am about to go into the brilliance that was Naho Kawasumi’s strike, the Megan Rapinoe effort and pressure in the lead-up to the goal has to be noted. Rapinoe is right on Megan Oyster, the Boston center back, and her pressure forces Oyster to pass back to goalkeeper Abby Smith. Rapinoe then takes off after Smith, putting her right under pressure as the ball comes into her feet. Smith, aware that Rapinoe is coming her way, decides to clear it out first time, a bit rushed. This causes her to completely misplay the ball. They always say it’s the work you do off the ball that makes the difference and we see that here with Rapinoe’s effort. She closes down both Oyster and Smith which forces an error that ultimately leads to a goal. Smith’s misplay goes right to Kawasumi about 40 yards out. Kawasumi takes the ball out of the air first time with a touch that puts the ball out ahead of her. She lets the ball bounce twice as she gets her hips set. Now, 30 yards out, Kawasumi strikes the ball with superb technique as it’s on an upward bounce and it flies right into the upper right hand corner of the goal, right past an outstretched Smith. Kawasumi does three great things here: first, she picks her head up. After she settles it out of the air, Kawasumi picks her head up as the ball takes two bounces. By doing this, she sees where the defenders are and where Smith is in goal. The second great thing she does here has to do with how she strikes the ball. She hits it on the bounce and keeps her body over the ball to ensure it doesn’t sky rocket over the goal. Lastly, the way Kawasumi strikes the ball with her foot is brilliant. She rockets the ball off the bounce with the outside of her right foot which gives it that bend far post that’s impossible for Smith to stop.

Pressley strike helps seal the deal for Orlando with her first goal on the season

The 27-year old center back for Orlando scores her first goal of the 2017 season with a rocket against FC Kansas City. (photo copyright Katie Cahalin for The Equalizer)

The 27-year old center back for Orlando scores her first goal of the 2017 season with a rocket against FC Kansas City. (photo copyright Katie Cahalin for The Equalizer)

What Happened: In the 70th minute, center defender Toni Pressley fired a strike to increase the Pride’s lead in an eventual 4-1 victory over FC Kansas City on Saturday.

How It Happened: First, we see Pride defender Ali Krieger lay it back to Pressley who’s sitting outside the 18 yard box on the left corner, unmarked. Upon receipt of the ball, Pressley takes a touch to get it under control and then immediately starts to drive forward to get into the box. Her first touch is interesting because at first glance I questioned why she would stop the ball dead on, but after re-watching the play a few times, I picked up on the reason she decided to do that. That reason: change of pace. By essentially trapping the ball when she receives it, Pressley gives hesitation with her hips pointed end line, but away from goal. That movement makes the Kansas City defender who’s pressuring her (Meagan Kelly) believe she’s going to drive down the line. Instead, Pressley, after trapping the ball, takes her next touch aggressively into space, with speed as she now changes direction and pace to drive into the box, and not down the flank. Pressley recognizes the way that the defender is coming at her, and to combat that, a quick change of pace puts her completely by the defender with that first touch. She then takes a few more dribbles as she continues to drive towards the top of the box, shaking off a defender with her strength and body movement. Before she gets to the box, she picks her head up and finds her opening perfectly. The way Pressley strikes this ball is really clinical. Like I said, she picks her head up and knows shes trying to hit far post. She keeps her body over the ball and strikes through completely, ensuring it stays low and driven. She strikes the ball with the outer side of her laces which gives it the spin that we see it take to dip past Nicole Barnhart and into the lower right hand corner of the goal last minute.

Andressinha floater seals the deal for Houston

What Happened: In the 54th minute, Andressinha, on a feed from Rachel Daly, hits one from outside the 18 yard box that finds the back of the net to give Houston a 2-0 lead in an eventual 2-1 defeat over the Washington Spirit on Saturday.

How It Happened: Daly, who’s dribbling down the right flank cuts inside to start driving inside the box from the right side. Instead of continuing to drive herself, as pressure comes towards her from the Spirit backline, she picks her head up and sees Andressinha just a bit outside the box. Daly’s decision making here is really important because she very well could have taken the ball inside the box and either hit one herself or continued to get closer to the six yard box to then make a play. Instead, she picks her head up and sees Andressinha who, due to a lagged run, is in a much better position and angle to put one on target. As the ball comes into Andressinha, she recognizes that she’s about to be closed down by a Spirit defender who’s only a few feet in front of her. By recognizing where that pressure was coming from and how fast it was coming, Andressinha made the decision to hit it first time. Daly’s ball was played on the ground, so the Brazilian was able to use the momentum already on the ball to re-direct a beautifully lofted ball from outside the 18 yard box. Andressinha picks out the far post and with a little spin on the ball, Spirit goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe is unable to even get a hand on the ball before it hits the back of the net.

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