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NWSL April Player of the Month: Sophia Smith in league of her own

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Sophia Smith returns from the World Cup in the NWSL Golden Boot race lead. (Craig Mitchelldyer/USA TODAY Sports)

With the end of April comes the near quarter-mark of the 2023 NWSL season. The first full month of the regular season brought attacking fireworks, a few key saves and a number of excellent individual performances that deserve recognition.

One player stood out above all the rest, earning our first Player of the Month honor of the season.

Sophia Smith, F, Portland Thorns

Smith started the NWSL season on fire, finishing April as one of only three players to lead the league with four goals in five games. She also leads the league in assists with four, twice as many as the next highest player. With Smith at the helm, the Thorns currently sit alone atop the NWSL standings, still undefeated in regular season play with the greatest goal differential in the league.

In addition to the USWNT star’s first career hat trick against Kansas City on April 1, her other stats support just what a goal-scoring machine she has been for the Thorns in their first five games. Smith leads the league in shots and shots on goal, she’s generated the highest individual xG percentage, and she sits atop American Soccer Analysis’ goals added (g+) estimation by more than three times the amount of the next contender

Simply put, Smith has made it more likely for her team to score goals and earn points than any other player in the league thus far, emphatically earning her Player of the Month honors.

Honorable mentions

April featured many impressive attacking performances, with a number of teams getting results from established stars, some of whom are in new systems with new clubs.

Lynn Williams, F, Gotham FC

Williams has reshaped the Gotham FC attack since coming over in a January trade, scoring three goals in five games. Less than a quarter of the way into the season, Williams has matched the individual scoring output of any Gotham player in 2022.

Jess Fishlock, M, OL Reign

The 2021 NWSL MVP has looked like her typically excellent self in 2023, scoring a brace against the Chicago Red Stars on April 22 while generating attacking chances that have the Reign sitting in second place in the NWSL standings.

Debinha, M, Kansas City Current

Debinha has come on strong late in the month, after working her minutes back up from a lingering injury. She joins Smith and Ashley Hatch as the only players to score four goals thus far, including a brace in Kansas City’s 2-0 win over Gotham on the last day of April.

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