The NWSL playoffs race is on and the top teams are battling for points. Here’s how the Aussies did in Week 21.
Seattle Reign and Chicago Red Stars both settled for a point a piece in a hard-fought 0-0 draw. Goalkeeper Lydia Williams kept Seattle in the game with more than a few critical saves. The first save came off of a hard-hit header by Julie Ertz. Williams alertly dove low, smothered the ball, and prevented the goal and rebound.
Soon after that, Chicago striker Sam Kerr hit a right-footed shot from the top of the penalty area. However, Williams was positioned in the right spot, making the save.
In the 27th minute, Kerr was showed a yellow card for stonewalling a Chicago corner kick. Minutes later, Kerr tried to sneak a shot past Williams, who was slightly off her line. Luckily for Williams, Kerr’s shot missed high and wide.
Seattle defender Steph Catley is still on an excused absence from the team.
Watch highlights from Seattle vs. Chicago:
Three days later, Chicago was back at it in the NWSL Game of the Week at Portland Thorns. In the 44th minute, Kerr scored on what some are calling the best goal of the season. With three defenders on her back, the never-say-die Aussie showed her unique skills to create just enough space to fire a cracker low and into the left corner for the goal.
Goal of the season? You be the judge:
Kerr scored her second goal of the match on a header inside the right post, proving once again that the Aussie can score anywhere, anytime, and from any part of her body. Kerr now leads the league in goals scored with 12.
Down 2-0 in the second half, Portland’s speedy striker Hayley Raso put Chicago on notice with a breakaway shot on goal, missing high and wide to the right. In the 60th minute, Portland right-winger Ellie Carpenter served a ball into the box, forcing the Chicago keeper to punch the ball away and directly into the path of Tobin Heath, who scored on a header.
Shortly after subbing in the 56th minute, Portland striker Caitlin Foord made a well-timed run toward the box, creatively allowing a cross to pass behind her, where the ball fell to a sliding Christine Sinclair for the equalizer. Final score: Portland 2-2 Chicago.
Watch the Portland vs. Chicago highlights:
Clare Polkinghorne anchored the Houston Dash midfield in a dominant 4-0 win over Washington Spirit. Houston forward Kyah Simon, recovering from a left ankle sprain, checked in at the 70th minute and immediately made in impact scoring a low and powerful goal in the 84th minute.
Watch Simon’s goal:
Utah Royals came away from New Jersey with a point against Sky Blue FC in a 2-2 draw. Utah defender Katrina Gorry was listed as a substitute, but did not play.
Orlando Pride continues their struggles with inconsistent play. In the first half against North Carolina, Orlando midfielder Emily van Egmond had Orlando’s best opportunity in the opening minutes with a distance shot that hit the far goal post. Alanna Kennedy’s fourth-minute set piece attempt was tipped over the bar by NC’s goalkeeper.
Unfortunately for Orlando, it’s a game of two halves. In the second half, NC dominated possession as Orlando’s defence was riddled with missed plays and mistakes in marking the opposition’s strikers. NC with the victory, 3-0.
With the loss, Orlando is leap-frogged by Chicago in the ladder, pushing Kerr and company into the top-four playoff run. There are two weeks left in the regular NWSL season.
Here is the current NWSL ladder heading into the last weeks of the season: http://www.nwslsoccer.com/standings
Also in the states, the NCAA women’s soccer college season has begun. In UCLA’s first game of the season, goalkeeper Teagan Micah proved the difference in a late 1-0 win over Long Beach State. Micah made a dazzling save, laying her body out to stop a sure goal.
Watch the highlights: