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NWSL Golden Boot race: Kerolin moves into tie with Ashley Hatch

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Kerolin scored her ninth goal over the weekend, bringing her into a tie with Ashley Hatch. (Rob Kinnan/USA TODAY Sports)

Two rising stars made the biggest moves in the NWSL Golden Boot race over the weekend. North Carolina Courage forward Kerolin moved into a tie with Ashley Hatch for second place with her ninth goal, while Portland Thorns forward Morgan Weaver added to her tally.

Weaver now has six goals on the season, tying her with Messiah Bright and Debinha, while Lynn Williams remains behind Hatch and Kerolin with seven goals. Sophia Smith holds onto the top spot with 11 goals, though she may lose ground as she continues to nurse a week-to-week MCL sprain.

Jaedyn Shaw and Jordyn Huitema also scored over the weekend, bringing their season totals to five goals each.

Trending upward: Kerolin (9 goals)

At one point this season, Kerolin was neck-and-neck with Smith for the Golden Boot award, and she appears to be heading back in that direction after scoring in North Carolina’s 3-3 draw with Gotham on Saturday. After an outstanding June in the NWSL, the 23-year-old Brazilian has returned from the World Cup in form.

Kerolin has been particularly efficient in front of net, with her nine goals coming on just 40 shots and 15 on target. That gives her a 60 percent success rate on converting shots on target into goals. In comparison, Smith has converted 29 percent of her 38 shots on target. If Kerolin continues to make the most of her chances, she could overtake Smith in the final four games of the regular season.

Staying put: Sophia Smith (11 goals)

The good news is that Smith avoided a worst-case scenario, and instead is considered week-to-week with a mild MCL sprain in her right knee.

But there’s no clear timetable for Smith’s return. With four games remaining, including Portland’s rivalry match against OL Reign on Sept. 16, Smith’s injury has come at a less-than-ideal time for both her and the Thorns.

NWSL leaderboard

  • 11 goals
    • Sophia Smith, Portland Thorns
  • 9 goals
    • Ashley Hatch, Washington Spirit
    • Kerolin, North Carolina Courage
  • 7 goals
    • Lynn Williams, Gotham FC
  • 6 goals
    • Messiah Bright, Orlando Pride
    • Debinha, Kansas City Current
    • Morgan Weaver, Portland Thorns
  • 5 goals
    • Bethany Balcer, OL Reign
    • Savannah DeMelo, Racing Louisville
    • Crystal Dunn, Portland Thorns
    • Cece Kizer, Kansas City Current
    • Tyler Lussi, North Carolina Courage
    • Alex Morgan, San Diego Wave
    • Ashley Sanchez, Washington Spirit
    • Jordyn Huitema, OL Reign
    • Jaedyn Shaw, San Diego Wave