BRYAN BYERLY/ISI PHOTOS

The NWSL’s Challenge Cup provided fans with a number of electric goals as soccer made its triumphant return. With the tournament officially concluded, we’re looking back at our top 10 scores. 

 

10. GROOM HITS A BULLET

Shea Groom’s shot is the definition of a banger. Receiving the pass from Houston Dash teammate Katie Stengel, Groom absolutely hammers the ball into the upper 90 of the back post. Her exceptional goal helped Houston to tie the Utah Royals 3-3 in preliminary play.

 

9. SOMEONE GIVE LAVELLE A ROSE

Rose Lavelle drives forward, slipping in a dangerous ball to her teammate, Ashley Hatch, who had made a diagonal run into the box. Although Hatch isn’t able to finish, Lavelle follows up and roofs her shot, giving the Washington Spirit their first goal of the tournament in a 2-1 defeat to the Chicago Red Stars. Name one thing Lavelle can’t do. We dare you.

 

8. GET THE BALL TO LYNN WILLIAMS

Lynn Williams used the Challenge Cup to cement her reputation as one of the league’s premier strikers. Here, she resiliently runs through a slide tackle on the flank and continues to dribble straight to goal. Cutting in front of her defender, Williams finds the perfect angle for a shot, and finishes with nothing but class, leading Carolina to a 2-0 victory of Washington.

 

7. MEWIS’ GOAL IS PICTURE PERFECT

You couldn’t have scripted this goal better if you tried. After intercepting a risky ball played out wide, Houston’s Brianna Visalli feeds a slip ball into Shea Groom, who cleverly rolls it back to Kristie Mewis. The Dash midfielder hits a spectacularly driven ball into the side panel of the goal, helping the future tournament champions edge OL Regin 2-0 in group play.

 

6. WEAVER TELLS THE REIGNING CHAMPS TO PACK THEIR BAGS

Rookies aren’t supposed to make game-winning goals look easy, but no one seems to have told that to Portland’s Morgan Weaver. Cutting in from the back post, Weaver beats her defender and places the ball just outside the reach of Carolina’s goalkeeper, earning the Thorns a 1-0 victory over the two-time defending champs. Not a bad way to start your career.

 

5. STAAB EQUALIZES WITH A CHEEKY PLAY

We swear these kids get younger everyday. A backheel flick from the winner of the NWSL’s Future Legend award Ashley Sanchez sets her second-year teammate Sam Stabb up to head the ball over Portland’s defense into the back of the net. Staab’s first NWSL goal gave her team the extra point it needed to tie the Portland Thorns 1-1 versus their third game of the tournament. Watch out for this pair of players down the line.

 

4. KAWASUMI SHOOTS HER SHOT

Nahomi Kawasumi excels at playing a short-sided game, but she also can hit the long-ball when needed. She launches this rocket from 40 yards out, catching Houston Dash’s goalkeeper Jane Campbell off her line. Kawasumi’s goal doubled Sky Blue’s lead, securing a 2-0 against the eventual Challenge Cup champs Houston Dash

 

3. SHEA GROOM, YOU’RE CLEARED FOR TAKEOFF

Tournament MVP Rachel Daly hits a total bomb, finding her teammate Shea Groom back post. An unmarked Groom takes flight, defying gravity to head the ball home in Houston’s 2-0 win against Ol Reign. ‘Groom airlines is now boarding group A. We repeat, Groom airlines is now boarding Group A.’

 

2. LINDSEY HORAN. ENOUGH SAID.

Lindsey Horan is an absolute Queen. After teammate Meghan Klingenberg hits a dinker off a free-kick, Horan’s diving header just brushes the goalkeeper’s fingertips before finding the back of the net. Horan’s score helped the Thorns tie the Spirit 1-1, and was eventually voted the play of the tournament. We might politely disagree, but we’re certainly not surprised.

 

1. GROOM PUTS THE DAGGER IN

Houston’s Rachel Daly plays a flawlessly weighted through-ball ahead to her teammate Shea Groom, who pushes straight to goal, touching the ball past Alyssa Naeher before putting the game away. Groom’s stoppage-time goal doubled Houston’s lead against Chicago in the Challenge Cup final, solidifying H-town’s victory and giving the Dash their first major title.