Thorns win, Dash and Red Stars draw: highlights
Portland beats KC, 2-1, while Houston and Chicago draw 0-0.
The Houston Dash’s Sophie Schmidt pings a long-ball from midfield to Nichelle Prince, her fellow Dash and Canadian national team teammate. In a footrace, Prince beats the Orlando Pride defender to the ball, smashing a half-volley over the goalkeeper and into the back of the net. Prince’s clinical finish gave her team an early lead in a 3-1 victory over Orlando. After winning the Challenge Cup, Houston came in second in the Fall Series thanks to the efforts of Prince and her teammates.
A deflected shot sends the ball flying through to the air, landing just outside the box at the feet of Kumi Yokoyama. The Washington Spirit forward tracks the ball down before losing her defender, curling a shot that deflects off the back post and into the net. Yokoyama’s absolutely wicked spin helped Washington walk away with the 1-0 win and a third place finish in the series overall.
.@TheNCCourage are just rolling. @Debinha7 grabs a second just before the halftime whistle.— National Women's Soccer League (@NWSL) October 17, 2020
0-3 | #ORLvNC
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Another NWSL season comes to a close, and Debinha is still underrated. Here, teammate Meredith Speck reads Orlando’s defense perfectly, stealing the ball and driving toward goal, patiently waiting for Debinha to get into position. The Brazilian superstar takes the beautifully weighted pass on a full-sprint before placing the ball back corner. Debinha’s smooth finish gave the North Carolina Courage a 3-0 lead before a second half comeback from the Orlando Pride ended the match in a 3-3 draw.
The dummy and then the goal *chef's kiss* ????????@bethanybalcer pulls a goal back for @OLReign!— National Women's Soccer League (@NWSL) September 26, 2020
2-1 | #UTAvRGN
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‘Tis spooky season folks, and OL Reign looked scary good in this play. Steph Cox plays it in to teammate Sofia Huerta, who cheekily dummies the pass, allowing it to run into Bethany Balcer’s tracks. Behind Utah’s defensive line, Balcer hits a beautiful curler into the far post’s side panel, boosting her team to an eventual 2-2 draw with the Royals.
She’s already got wings. The height Utah Royals’ Tziarra King got off this header goal is inhuman. Open on the right flank, Brittany Ratcliffe plays a cross into the box near the six. King flexes her hops, flying far above Reign’s defenders, and heads the ball back into the front post corner. Throughout the Fall Series, the rookie King was a consistent bright spot for Utah. We don’t expect this is the last time we’ll be singing her praises.
The Portland Thorns’ Lindsey Horan and Christine Sinclair are the epitome of a dynamic duo. In typical fashion, Horan plays some tiki-taka on the left flank before playing a dangerous diagonal ball back to Sinclair. The Canadian superstar drills the ball into the far corner, putting it completely out of reach of OL Reign’s goalkeeper. Sinclair led the league with six goals in the Fall Series, double the amount of the next highest scorer. What are we supposed to do for the rest of the year if we can’t watch Sinclair dominate the NWSL?
Shea Groom first took flight on a spectacular goal during the Challenge Cup. And surprise, surprise, she did it again. The Houston Dash’s Brianna Visalli jumpstarts the counterattack by winning a critical tackle in her defensive end before slotting the ball ahead to Kristie Mewis, who chips it into the box. Groom comes flying in and heads the ball with major conviction. Groom’s strike helped her finish the Fall Series as the second-leading goal scorer while Mewis was first in assists.
Portland Thorns’ keeper Britt Eckerstrom was an absolute beast throughout the Fall Series. She led the league in saves, denying what could have been 19 goals while only allowing 3 to get past her all tournament. In the early moments of this match against OL Reign, midfielder Shirley Cruz floats a bomb into the box, finding Bethany Balcer, who heads the ball toward the top-shelf. But Eckerstrom makes an incredible leap to push the ball over the crossbar with her left hand. Needless to say, Eckerstrom played a vital role in helping Portland walk away with the Fall Series Community Shield.
???? Debut goal for @sophsssmith ????— National Women's Soccer League (@NWSL) September 20, 2020
And what a class finish it was from the 2020 No. 1 college draft pick!
2-0 | #PORvUTA
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How could we forget Smith’s brilliant header, which she scored within just three minutes of entering her first professional career match? Meghan Klingenberg of the Portland Thorns initiates the action by picking off a pass before playing a line-drive into the penalty area. Smith connects with the pass, heading it into the far corner for a spectacular start to her NWSL career. The number one draft pick has Portland fans walking away from the Fall Series with a new trophy on their shelves and sky high expectations for the years to come.
The title says it all. Debinha’s goal made SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays for a reason. There’s a chance the net is still smoking after this bullet from the North Carolina midfielder. After receiving the ball back from her teammate Lynn Williams, Debinha turns inside and dummies her defender before immediately lifting her head to smash a shot from outside the 18. The ball carries to the back post upper 90, popping the back of the net. Once again Debinha has left fans wondering if she isn’t, in fact, the most dangerous player in the league.
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