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NWSL Golden Boot race: Kerolin challenges Sophia Smith for top spot

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North Carolina Courage forward Kerolin battles with OL Reign defender Shae Holmes at Lumen Field on Oct. 1. (Stephen Brashear/USA TODAY Sports)

Kerolin pulled within one goal of Sophia Smith for the top spot in the NWSL Golden Boot race in the latest match week, setting up for an exciting end to the season.

With just two games remaining in the regular season, Kerolin could overtake the injured Smith if she scores in each of the North Carolina Courages’s final two contests. But Smith has been back in training with the Portland Thorns, and she could make a surprise return before the playoffs.

And while it’s likely too late for Alex Morgan to take the title, she did get her first goal in four months, bringing an end to her scoring drought. Several other players joined her in scoring their sixth goals on the season, with Adriana and Bethany Balcer also finding the back of the net over the weekend.

Trending upward: Kerolin, North Carolina Courage

Kerolin’s goal against OL Reign provided the game-saver the Courage needed to stay in the running for the NWSL Shield. Her goal in the 1-1 draw assured her team of a crucial standings point. It also marked her second in the last three games, so the 23-year-old is peaking at the right time.

With just two games left in the regular season, the Brazilian forward will need to stay hot to overtake Smith for the Golden Boot. She needs two goals to do so, as the tiebreaker would go to the Thorns forward.

Things we love to see: An Alex Morgan goal

Entering the most recent NWSL weekend, it had been far too long since Alex Morgan scored a goal – for club or country. A four-month drought is not something we’re accustomed to seeing from the star striker, so to have her score in the San Diego Wave’s 2-0 win over the Portland Thorns – a key win in the race for the Shield – was like taking that first sip of ice-cold water on a hot summer’s day.

The goal was nothing to sneeze at, either, with Morgan heading the ball from 10 yards out on a cross from Christen Westphal. And with a new head coach coming soon to the USWNT, one can only hope that the goal-scoring extends to the international level.

NWSL leaderboard

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