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The Kronick Report: Sam Kerr is at it again!

As the month of August comes to a close, the race for the playoff spots continues to heat up. In NWSL action this past weekend, we saw another flawless Kerr finish, LaBonta’s first professional goal, and a Press goal worth talking about! Check it out.

Sam Kerr (right) battled Rosie White in stoppage time of Sky Blue’s first shutout since July 1. (photo copyright Katie Cahalin for The Equalizer)

Sam Kerr is at it again!

What Happened: Sam Kerr scored the lone goal of the night in Sky Blue FC’s 1-0 victory over the Boston Breakers with a finish in the fifth minute to lock in her league-leading 16th goal on the season.

How It Happened: Another week, another Sam Kerr goal to talk about. This past weekend, Sam Kerr finished one with style to tie Kim Little’s record for single-season goals set back in 2014. Sky Blue FC midfielder Nikki Stanton launches a ball from a little outside her own defensive 18 yard box toward Kerr who’s up the field. As this play is set up, Sam Kerr is doing what she does best: she’s sitting high on the Boston backline, splitting two defenders, and the second the ball is played her way as she’s on the move. She’s in a perfect position to get in behind and Stanton’s ball coupled with Kerr’s positioning and movement once the ball is played allows for exactly that. Kerr, who’s now successfully split the two defenders, is on the run to catch up to Stanton’s ball. Boston Breakers goalkeeper Abby Smith is forced to come off her line to meet Kerr almost 25 yards out. Kerr beats Smith to the ball and with one touch is past Smith and straight in on goal. Kerr takes a few more dribbles to get inside the box and slots one home on the ground with no pressure on her. It’s definitely worth noting that Smith’s positioning on this play is pretty poor. She’s way too far off her line when the ball is played through to Kerr which does give Kerr a very big advantage when they both go for the 50-50 ball 25 yards out from goal. However, Sam Kerr truly executes every part of this play flawlessly. From her run, to splitting the defenders, to challenging Smith and getting to the ball first, to putting away a calm and collected finish. She’s really showing this league that she could be the best finisher here, if not one of the best in the world right now. 

Lo’eau LaBonta finishes one from close range to score her first-ever in the NWSL

What Happened: In the 42nd minute, Lo’eau LaBonta scored her first NWSL goal off a Shea Groom assist to tie the game up a 1-1. Unfortunately for the Blues, a late Morgan goal sealed the deal for Orlando.

How It Happened: For her first goal of the season, Lo’eau LaBonta executes a clinical finish for FC Kansas City. Shea Groom plays a great ball into the box looking to find one of her teammates on the end of it and LaBonta does just that by becoming that player on the receiving end of Groom’s ball. She makes sure to hold her positioning to avoid being called offside and slots herself right in between two defenders in the box. She’s able to let the ball bounce and capitalize on it’s drop to one-finish the ball low and into the back of the next. By getting in between the two defenders and splitting them, LaBonta puts herself in a perfect position for a look on net as she gets the ball facing Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris within a few yards of goal. LaBonta’s finish is low and driven and even ends up going through Harris’s legs before hitting the back of the net.

Press wins it for Chicago with three minutes to spare

Olympic teammates Christen Press, right, and Mallory Pugh battle during Week 18 action (photo copyright EriMac Photo for The Equalizer)

What Happened: In the 87th minute, Christen Press scored her 10th goal of the season to give the Chicago Red Stars a 2-0 victory over the Washington Spirit.

How It Happened: Much like Sam Kerr’s goal above, we see a very similar connection between Christen Press and Julie Ertiz as Press is able to get on the end of a long range ball from Ertz to finish. Before Ertz plays the ball up the field, Press is already on the shoulder of her defender out on the left hand side of the pitch. It’s instrumental that she’s on the shoulder of the defender becuase it gives her the ability to get past her with a quick change of pace but it’s also equally important that she’s pulled her out wide. By doing this, Press opens up a ton of space in the middle that she’s able to get into once the ball is played. Ertz launches a great ball from her defensive half of the field and finds Press who catches up to it in-stride ahead of the Spirit defender. She takes a few quick touches to keep her momentum going and keep the ball in front of her. Once she gets into the box, Press has to make a decision to try and put one past Spirit goalkeeper DiDi Haracic, who’s started to come off her line, or go make a move to get past her. In most scenarios, it’s easier to just take a shot at that point. You’re close enough in on goal and you just have the keeper to beat. But, Press opts to take on Haracic and does so perfectly. She takes a touch past Haracic and is still able to round her hips to get one into the back of an open net. She made a strategic move in a tight space that ended up paying off big time.

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