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NWSL Golden Boot winners: Who will join elite group in 2023?

(Orlando Ramirez/USA TODAY Sports)

The 2023 Golden Boot race is nearing the finish line, with Portland Thorns forward Sophia Smith holding a one-goal lead over her nearest competitor.

Still, North Carolina Courage forward Kerolin (10 goals) would need a brace to overtake Smith (11 goals), as the reigning league MVP holds the tiebreaker. The final day of the 2023 regular season will decide the playoff and Golden Boot races.

Ahead of decision day, Just Women’s Sports takes a look back at the history of NWSL Golden Boot winners.

(Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

2022: Alex Morgan, San Diego Wave, 15 goals

In San Diego’s inaugural season in the NWSL, Morgan put on a show, tallying 15 goals in 17 games. A career-best for the star forward, the total included three braces, plus four goals in one game to tie an NWSL record.

(Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

2021: Ashley Hatch, Washington Spirit, 10 goals

Hatch earned the 2021 Golden Boot with just 10 goals in 20 games, the lowest total needed to earn the award in league history. Her 10 goals were a career best, which Hatch has nearly matched with nine goals in 2023.

(Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

2019: Sam Kerr, Chicago Red Stars, 18 goals

In 2019, Kerr broke her own single-season goal scoring record with 18 goals, a mark that still stands. She also won her third consecutive scoring title; no other player has won more than once. Kerr still stands alone atop the NWSL with 77 career goals, despite departing for the Women’s Super League after the 2019 season.

(Quinn Harris/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

2018: Sam Kerr, Chicago Red Stars, 16 goals

Kerr also won the scoring title in 2018, along the way becoming the first player to reach 50 goals in NWSL history. She finished the season with 59.

(Rich Barnes/Getty Images)

2017: Sam Kerr, Sky Blue FC, 17 goals

For Kerr’s first of three scoring titles, the Australian phenom set a single-season record that she broke herself two years later. Kerr scored 17 goals in 22 games, none of them on penalty kicks. She also became the first player in NWSL history to reach 50 career points.

(Lewis Gettier/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

2016: Lynn Williams, Western New York Flash, 11 goals

Lynn Williams capped her second NWSL season with the Golden Boot. For the first time in league history, two players atop the goals leaderboard, as Williams and Kealia Ohai Watt both finished with 11. But Williams held the tiebreaker, with five assists to Watt’s four.

(Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

2015: Crystal Dunn, Washington Spirit, 15 goals

Dunn had a standout 2015 season, scoring 15 goals to take home the Golden Boot. At 23 years old, she also became the youngest player in league history to take home the league MVP award, a milestone eclipsed by Smith in 2022.

(Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

2014: Kim Little, Seattle Reign FC, 16 goals

With 16 goals in 23 games, Little went on scoring tear. From May through June, Little scored a goal in six consecutive games. She had a goal against each NWSL team that season, including five against the Dash.


(Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

2013: Lauren Holiday, FC Kansas City, 12 goals

The future Hall of Famer won the inaugural NWSL scoring title with 12 goals for FC Kansas City. She also ranked fourth in shots and shots on goal, registering a goal or an assist in 10 consecutive games. Holiday also was named league MVP in 2013.

Sofia Huerta signs contract extension with Seattle through 2027

(Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports)

Former Oregon soccer players detail instances of verbal abuse from former USWNT assistant

(Chris Pietsch/The Register-Guard via Imagn Content Services)

Members of the Oregon women’s soccer team are saying they received harsh treatment and even verbal abuse from head coach and former USWNT assistant Graeme Abel. 

During the 2023 season, the team had zero wins, and upon its conclusion a total of 12 of the team’s 29 players departed the team. Former players told The Oregonian that Abel would verbally attack them, threaten to kick them off the team and at times would even throw objects.

"When I’d make a mistake at practice, it felt like he made it a job to embarrass you to the point where you just wanted to walk off the field,” one player said. “He’d stop the practice – and I know it’s college soccer, it’s very competitive — but he’d stop practice and just keep going nonstop on this one thing."

In total, the Oregonian spoke with 14 former players – including 12 who agreed to be interviewed in depth. All said that they experienced verbal abuse. Six of the players were among those who transferred following the season. 

One instance of Abel’s tirades included him throwing a water bottle that narrowly missed players’ heads. 

“He kicked all of our staff out of the locker room, kicked a trash can, threw a white board, sat on the trash can and started screaming,” one player recounted. “He wanted us to tell him what we thought went wrong in the game. Me and another player spoke up, and he said, ‘You’re just (expletive) wrong.’ And that if we didn’t want to be in this program, we could all quit, and he’d sign our release paperwork tomorrow.”

While Abel was not made available for an interview, he did say in a statement that “at no point have I used threatening statements or financial repercussions as a part of coaching.”

Instances of emotional distress stemming from Abel’s alleged harsh treatment date back to 2021 – his first full year leading the team following an abbreviated 2020 campaign.

Other former players contacted by The Oregonian detailed positive overall experiences, and described his style as “normal coaching.”

Others, like USWNT players Becky Sauerbrunn and Lindsey Horan, did not respond to requests for comment, although Sauerbrunn wrote in 2019 that she had a “great relationship” with Abel. 

Still, multiple players interviewed had similar stories, with one saying that girls would be “crying in the locker room” after practice because of what he would tell players. Attempts to speak with the administration about his behavior, players say, was “discouraging.”

“His office is like the scariest place,” one player said. “You’d have to sit there while he’d belittle you and say all these nasty things, and gaslight you into believing you’re not good enough. ... Our team fell apart because of the environment he created. We were just trying to get through the day. There was no way we could focus on soccer.”

Multiple players said they experienced suicidal ideation while playing at Oregon. In part of his statement, Abel wrote that “at no time do we put our student-athletes in any danger.”

Abel is currently in his fifth and final year of his contract at Oregon.

Gotham FC unveil Championship rings ahead of banner reveal

Gotham FC players celebrate Lynn Williams' goal in the first half of the 2023 NWSL Championship. (Ray Acevedo/USA TODAY Sports)

Gotham FC has unveiled their 2023 NWSL championship rings — and safe to say, they deliver.

The reveal has led to a little bit of trash talk ahead of the team’s matchup with Kansas City this weekend, as both teams have NFL owners. While the Current are co-owned by Patrick and Brittany Mahomes, former Giants quarterback Eli Manning is a co-owner of Gotham. 

On Wednesday, Manning took to Sportscenter to give Mahomes a bit of a hard time.

“He may have one more Super Bowl ring than me, but he does not have a NWSL championship ring like I do,” Manning joked.

“Come Sunday night at Red Bull Arena, April 14th, we’re dropping the banner on Kansas City. We got the ring ceremony, the players get their rings and their championship afterwards. This is it, I’ve got something to talk a little trash to him about because I can’t do it about football anymore, I gotta find something else.”

The appearance came after Manning posted to social media, inviting Mahomes to “come see [the championship ring] up close this Sunday.”

Mahomes responded in kind, writing that “we’ll see y’all Sunday!”

Gotham takes on current league-leaders Kansas City on Sunday at 6pm ET. The game is available on NWSL+.

Oregon State hit by transfer portal again as Raegan Beers departs

ALBANY, NEW YORK - MARCH 31: Raegan Beers #15 of the Oregon State Beavers shoots a free throw during the first half against the South Carolina Gamecocks in the Elite 8 round of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament at MVP Arena on March 31, 2024 in Albany, New York. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Oregon State leading scorer and rebounder Raegan Beers announced on Thursday that she is entering the transfer portal. 

"Thank you for all of your endless love and support these past two years," she posted on social media. "I will never forget my time at OSU and I am thankful for the opportunity I had to meet and play with incredible people. My journey as a Beav was a special one and I am grateful for my teammates, coaches, fans, and friends who have changed my life throughout my time here."

A sophomore forward, Beers is a two-time All-Pac-12 selection who averaged 17.5 points per game last season while shooting 66.4 percent from the field. She also added 10.3 rebounds en route to earning third-team All-American honors from the AP. 

She’s the fourth Oregon State starter – and seventh player overall – to hit the portal this offseason. She joins Talia von Oelhoggen and Timea Gardiner in the transfer portal, as well as starting freshman Donovyn Hunter. 

Beers and Gardiner were both top-10 recruits in ESPN rankings coming out of high school. 

With the dissolution of the Pac-12, the program will join the WCC next season and no longer be a part of the Power 5.

Conference realignment is hitting the team hard, with coach Scott Rueck saying during the tournament that he knew it could seriously affect his team moving forward. 

"That's reality," Rueck said. "I can't control that, other than just keep doing what I'm doing. I think the opportunity within that for a leader provides a discipline that you'd better be on your A-game all the time. You'd better take care of people, and you'd better provide a great experience. That's the approach going forward and what happens, happens. We'll find a way."

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