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NWSL Week 13 Review: Sophia Smith shines in club sendoff

Photo Copyright Craig Mitchelldyer for USA TODAY Sports

This past weekend marked the last slate of games in the National Women’s Soccer League before national team players head off to link up for pre-World Cup camps.

Sophia Smith puts on a show in Portland

Sophia Smith delighted the home fans on Friday night with a hat-trick en route to the Thorns’ 4-2 win over the Spirit. It was an emphatic send-off for the forward, who was named to her first World Cup team mid-week. Morgan Weaver rounded out the scoring for Portland, while the Ashleys – first Hatch, and then Sanchez – got two back for Washington in Mark Parsons’ return to Providence Park.

Late drama in San Diego

Reign forward Bethany Balcer had a brace in OL Reign’s 2-1 win against the Wave. She scored her first in the eighth minute and Jaedyn Shaw equalized right after the break. Balcer scored again in the 77th off an assist from Sofia Huerta to put the game away.

Trailing 2-1, Wave goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan was sent off after knocking over a defender in front of the goal. Shae Yanez took over in goal.

Though Balcer’s winner and Sheridan’s red will steal the headlines, the highlight of the match for me was actually Quinn’s assist on Balcer’s opener: a delightful pin-point ball over the top of the Wave defenders.

Gotham wins with a stunning free kick

A stunning free kick from Allie Long earned Gotham the 2-1 win over Chicago on Sunday. Not only did Gotham get the win, but in more positive news, Margaret Purce – who has been out for over two months with a quad injury – returned to the pitch as a second-half substitute.

But that’s not all! In more fun news, Mana Shim – who, along with Gotham teammate Sinead Farrelly, were the catalysts for systemic change in the NWSL – signed a short-term injury replacement contract on Sunday. She was available for selection off the bench but did not see game time.

Courage continue their win streak

The North Carolina Courage continued their three-game win (and shutout) streak on Saturday when they prevailed 1-0 over Racing Lousiville. Louisville keeper Katie Lund made an initial save on a shot by Tyler Lussi, but Lussi followed up her own rebound to knock it in. With the win, North Carolina move to second in the standings, tied on points with the Reign and the Spirit, but with a better goal differential.

Angel City and Dash play to a scoreless draw

Despite being down a player for over 30 minutes after Katie Lind was shown a red card in the 58th minute, the Houston Dash managed to hang on to a scoreless draw and share the points with Angel City on Sunday.

The start of this one was a slog, with neither team registering a shot on target in the opening 45 minutes. But after the break – both before and after Lind’s red card – Angel City pressured the visitors, registering four shots on net. But keeper Jane Campbell was up to the task on each to maintain her shutout.

Debinha lifts the Current out of last place

Kansas City lifted themselves out of the bottom of the standings on Saturday with a 1-0 win over Orlando, courtesy of a goal by Debinha. But Vanessa DiBernardo forced the goal, as she pressured and ultimately won the ball off of Pride defender Kerry Abello. With the win, the Current move to 11th place, two points ahead of the Red Stars.

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