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NWSL Plays of the Week: Maria Sánchez, Rose Lavelle strike gold

Maria Sánchez and the Houston Dash face a win-and-in scenario this weekend. (Erik Williams/USA TODAY Sports)

With just a few weeks left in the NWSL season, the playoff race is heating up.

U.S. women’s national team stars Rose Lavelle and Alyssa Naeher and Mexico national team forward Maria Sánchez came up big to keep their club teams in the thick of the postseason chase.

NWSL Plays of the Week

Maria Sánchez’s rocket

Sánchez struck the shot of the season Sunday, and with it, she brought the Houston Dash fans at PNC Stadium to their feet.

The Mexican international let off a rocket from far outside the box, burying the ball into the upper 90 past a diving Angel City goalkeeper.

Sánchez’s sensational finish helped Houston to a 1-1 draw with Angel City FC, keeping the Dash in playoff contention at fourth in the NWSL standings with 30 points.

Unsurprisingly, Sánchez called Sunday’s banger “probably one of my top goals.”

Rose Lavelle’s screamer

Lavelle played hero for OL Reign on Friday, notching the 80th-minute equalizer to secure a 2-2 draw with the Chicago Red Stars as both teams fight to remain in the playoff picture.

In vintage Lavelle fashion, the star midfielder beat her defender, taking advantage of the time and space awarded to her, and then let off a screamer from the edge of the box.

The goal marks Lavelle’s fourth in 13 regular-season appearances.

Alyssa Naeher’s save

Alyssa Naeher has a busy Friday night, logging seven saves to help clinch the Red Stars’ draw with OL Reign.

The keeper’s most impressive stop came against USWNT teammate Megan Rapinoe, as Naeher denied the OL Reign forward from close range.

Naeher first blocked Rapinoe’s shot before batting away the deflection to keep Rapinoe off the scoresheet.

With the draw, the Red Stars hold onto the sixth and final playoff spot with four matches left in the season. Chicago has 27 points, while OL Reign sits in fifth with 28.

Naeher’s impressive performance not only helped her team keep pace in the playoff race but also added to her case for the starting USWNT goalkeeper position.