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  • Sophie Lodes

NWSL Matchday 11 Recap

Records were broken, bangers were scored, and players continued to have stand-out performances for their teams across matchday 11 in the NWSL. Crystal Dunn crossed the 10,000-minute mark and Lo'eau LaBonta crossed 5,000. Croix Bethune strengthened her case for rookie of the year and the Southern California clash was the only match not to see a goal scored. As the summer heats up, matchday 11 took no vacations, producing plenty of storylines.

Pride of the NWSL...

The Orlando Pride are rolling, undefeated so far this season, and set an NWSL record of eight consecutive wins after defeating the Portland Thorns 2-1 on Friday. The undefeated stretch isn't exactly a surprise for a team that narrowly missed the playoffs next year, but not many people had the Pride as being, well, the Pride of the NWSL so far this season.

The electric start is due, in part, to the arrival of Barbra Banda, the Zambian international star. With eight goals in six games, Banda certainly helps the lethality of the Pride's attack.

Scarier than Banda on her own? Due to injuries and scheduling, the Pride have featured a heavily rotated lineup of different players at different times. Head Coach Seb Hines hasn't been able to field his preferred starting 11 yet the Pride keep finding ways to win in a convincing fashion. The Pride are a complete team right now.

Despite being at the top of the table, midfielder Haley McCutcheon noted the team was "not satisfied, as there is a bigger goal to achieve at the end of the season still.”

Everyone might be chasing the Pride, but Marta and the Pride have no intention of letting other teams catch up. "We just need to run [faster]” Marta declared.

Bangers by....Ella Stevens, Elizabeth Ball, and Barbara Olivieri

Perhaps the two tap-ins by Ella Stevens don't technically classify as bangers, but Stevens' has four goals in three games, helping Gotham to a six-game unbeaten streak. Her second goal against Bay FC was the result of Stevens putting pressure on Bay FC goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland. Certified banger or not, Stevens's goals represent Gotham's ability to find the right player at the right time--and the depth of their squad.

Meanwhile, the Kansas City Current broke the NWSL record for the number of goalscorers in a season with Elizabeth Ball being the 15th KC Current player to score. With a recycled ball into the Utah Royals box and a header assist from Claire Hutton, Ball managed to slide onto the end of the pass, poking it into the far post side netting. Not only did the goal break the record, but it also helped to extend the Current's unbeaten streak to 11.

Houston's season has been a rollercoaster, to say the least, but their 3-0 win over the North Carolina Courage has the team trending the right way before the international break. Texas native Barbara Olivieri scored the Dash's second goal, curling her right-footed shot into the side netting past an outstretched Casey Murphy.

Big-name Brazilian signee Tarciane made her debut with the Dash, coming up with a big-time block in the 60th minute. Tarciane took home player of the match honors in her first game with the Dash as the team collected their first home win of the season. Currently, the Dash are sitting just outside of a playoff place on a -7 goal differential. What Dash team emerges after the break remains a mystery, but there's plenty of time for Houston to figure things out.

The NWSL takes a week off for the international break, with action returning the weekend of June 7. But, not to worry, many of the NWSL stars will be participating in the international break, with the USWNT playing two friendlies on June 1 and 4 against South Korea.


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