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NWSL June Player of the Month: Kerolin’s star rises

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With six goals in the month of June, Kerolin has helped the Courage surge to second place in the NWSL. (Quinn Harris/USA TODAY Sports)

June has brought another exciting month of NWSL action, with some shifting at the top of the table. While the Thorns have stayed ahead of the pack and North Carolina is on the rise, OL Reign, San Diego and Washington have remained in the mix at the top of the standings.

Familiar faces continue to perform at the highest level, and the Golden Boot race is heating up before players leave for the 2023 World Cup. A few have notably stood out in regular season play, with their team’s fortunes following suit.

Here is our pick for June’s NWSL Player of the Month.

Kerolin, F, North Carolina Courage

Kerolin and Portland’s Sophia Smith were neck-and-neck heading into the end of the month, but the way the Brazilian attacker has been able to raise her team’s standing in June gives her the ultimate edge.

Kerolin scored four regular season goals in June, including one hat trick, as the Courage went 3-1 to surge to second place in the NWSL standings. The 23-year-old’s influence also goes beyond the box score. She is fifth in the league in xG added for the month of June, and second in American Soccer Analysis’ g+ metric, based on her excellent dribbling and passing abilities.

In addition to the underlying stats, what sets Kerolin’s month apart has to do with her team. Expectations for North Carolina were uncharacteristically low heading into this season, after the team lost major playmakers like Debinha and Diana Ordoñez. But instead of falling off, North Carolina has looked like a more cohesive unit in 2023 than it did in 2022, and the results have followed.

With international transfer interest already brewing as Kerolin leaves for the World Cup, her star is only rising, and June 2023 might end up being considered her career breakthrough.

Sophia Smith leads the NWSL's Golden Boot race over halfway through the season. (Troy Wayrynen/USA TODAY Sports)

Honorable mentions

Sophia Smith, F, Portland Thorns

Smith was typically excellent in June, taking control of the Golden Boot race with a six-goal month. She capped June off with her second hat trick of the season, placing the Thorns at the top of the table as she leaves for the World Cup.

Sam Staab, D, Washington Spirit

With more than half the season over, Staab should be considered a frontrunner for NWSL Defender of the Year. She’s been very durable for a strong Spirit backline, and her distribution has been consistently excellent.

Sam Coffey, M, Portland Thorns

Just missing out on the USWNT World Cup roster, Sam Coffey is nonetheless playing some of the best soccer of her career. She leads the league with six assists and has been a versatile member of Portland’s high-flying midfield.

Claire Watkins is a Staff Writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @ScoutRipley.