With regular season play coming to a close, goals = playoff implications. Let’s dive deeper into some from this week and what they meant towards the hunt for the 2017 NWSL Championship.
Daly header rockets into back of the net in Dash loss to Chicago
What Happened: Rachel Daly scored in the 86th minute as the Dash tried to rally from behind against the Chicago Red Stars. Daly’s header brought the Dash within one with four minutes to go, but it wasn’t enough as Chicago won it 3-2 and clinched a spot in the playoffs.
— NWSL (@NWSL) September 24, 2017
How It Happened: Rachel Daly took home goal of the week, rightfully so, with her impressive diving header that came off a Kristie Mewis assist. With minutes winding down in the second half, Mewis launches a ball towards Daly who’s in a 1v1 position against Chicago defender Casey Short. Daly tracks the ball perfectly and could not time her run better. She sees that the ball from Mewis is going to beat the first Chicago defender and capitalizes on that exactly. She times her run just right as she’s able to get on the end of the Mewis ball after it passes the Chicago defender and takes a big bounce. She beats Short to the ball and attacks it fearlessly. She uses her body and momentum to meet the ball just right and send it into the back of the net with tons of force. Not only does she re-direct a powerful bouncing ball on net, but she hits it right into the upper 90 where it sneaks in past an outstretched Alyssa Naeher. One for the highlight reels if you ask me!
Shea Groom ends Reign’s playoff hopes
What Happened: In the 23rd minute, FC Kansas City forward Shea Groom slotted one home off an assist from Sydney Leroux to give FCKC the lone goal in a 1-0 victory this past weekend which officially knocked the Seattle Reign out of post-season contention.
How It Happened: When you watch this goal, your immediate attention goes to the through ball from Leroux. But, let’s take it a step back. Leroux jumps on the end of a loose ball about 35 yards out with her back to goal. The first touch that she takes here upon receiving the ball is so important. It’s a touch across her body with her right foot. She’s able to do this because she’s felt the defender behind her and knows where the open space is. For that reason, the touch across her body not only gives her a step ahead of her defender but also puts her into open space more towards the central part of the field. From there, Leroux drives central, forcing another Seattle defender to step. As the defender steps, she sees a perfect opening that splits an additional two Reign backs. As the first defender closes in on her, Leroux plays the ball right into that space that’s splitting two defenders to Shea Groom who’s already on the move. Groom, on the other hand, is timing her run and her position perfectly as she sees Leroux drive inside. The moment Leroux plays the ball, Groom is sitting right on the shoulder of a Reign defender. That positioning gives her the perfect advantage to get on the end of Leroux’s through ball. Groom gets on the end of the ball as goalkeeper Lydia Williams rushes out and uses just one touch to slot one home against Williams. Groom, who was being closed down by Reign defenders at her back and a charging Williams ahead of her, keeps her composure and drives one low into the back of the net to give FC Kansas City the win on the night.
— NWSL (@NWSL) September 25, 2017
Rookie Hatch scores sixth of the season for Courage in 1-1 draw
What Happened: Ashley Hatch scored in the 27th minute to give the first-place North Carolina Courage a 1-0 lead over Sky Blue FC. A 75th minute goal from Raquel Rodriguez denied the Courage a win as the game ended in a 1-1 draw after 90 minutes.
How It Happened: After a quick restart, Ashley Hatch made no mistake in securing the sixth goal of her rookie NWSL season. Despite the fact that seconds before Hatch saw a goal called back for offside, this time she locked one in for good. After a restart from NJ goalkeeper Caroline Casey, Kristen Hamilton wins it out of the air off a goal kick and heads it back towards Sky Blue FC’s defensive end. The second that Hamilton wins the ball, Hatch takes off to chase down the ball. Her acceleration puts her ahead of the entire Sky Blue FC backline. After she settles the ball and takes a touch, she uses her composure inside the box to keep it low and tucked away past Casey. When you re-watch this goal a few times, my favorite part is that you can see Hatch pushing up against the NJ back line before Hamilton even heads to ball. She’s anticipating that Hamilton is going to win it and send it back her way. The anticipation gives her an advantage and that, coupled with her quick change of pace gives her a clear path to goal.
— NWSL (@NWSL) September 24, 2017