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  • Writer's pictureOliver Hunt

NWSL Week 8 Was Great

It was impressive that the Spirit found themselves able to hold onto an unbeaten streak as long as they did considering the talent of the league. But they lost it this week in a defeat that no one predicted. The NWSL didn’t disappoint in week eight, creating some wacky scorelines and incredible entertainment as underdogs rose to the occasion. It was a high-scoring weekend with seventeen goals across six matches and an exciting birthday statistic. Let’s get into the week eight action.

Painting Pitches Purple

In the biggest upset of the weekend, the Washington Spirit are grappling with their first loss of the season after they fell 2-1 to the Orlando Pride. The Spirit struggled to get productive moments on the ball against the Pride, finding themselves stifled by the Orlando backline. Marta is back and better than ever, getting her first goal of the season off a PK and earning an assist on the game-winner which was scored by Kylie Strom.

The Spirit’s lone goal came from a Sam Staab header, making her one of the few players to have scored every season she’s been in the league. The Pride saw themselves with an impressive win, creating surprise and hope for their fans at home and reminding everyone that every game in the league of chaos is anyone’s game.

The Pride weren’t the only purple squad that saw exceptional success this weekend, as Racing Louisville took down a scattered Kansas City Current. Racing ran circles around the Current’s defense who struggled with getting the ball away from their own goal. Savannah DeMelo is on a roll, scoring three goals in her last two appearances for Racing.

Racing Louisville celebrating after a goal from Savannah DeMelo to put them on top on May 20, 2023 (Photo Credit to Racing Louisville FC)

The Current’s defense was not on the same page for this match, leaving wide-open spaces for Racing to take advantage of. The Current couldn’t find the back of the net, even though Debinha had several great runs up the middle. In the end, Abby Erceg, Katie Lund, Savannah DeMelo, Jaelin Howell, and Carson Pickett had stand-out performances to bag this victory for Racing as they begin to climb the table on an upward trend.

Collecting Clean Sheets

No one could manage to find the back of the net in North Carolina on Saturday as the Courage and Angel City settled for a 0-0 draw and shared the points. While it was neither side’s best game, North Carolina will be very disappointed they walked away with just a tie. Tyler Lussi and Kerolin were on the front foot all night, creating problems up and down the field for Angel City. But they were unable to finish their chances and walked away scoreless.

Both keepers made significant saves, with Casey Murphy coming off her line to punch away a good chance and Didi Haracic stopping several shots from Lussi and Kerolin. But there were a critical number of shots that simply went wide, not requiring defenders to stop them. All in all, both sides weren’t as on target as they should’ve been, providing only the fourth scoreless match of the regular season.

Dominant Performances Generate High Scorelines

The Wave continued their dominant performance from last week, crushing Houston by getting the ball rolling early with the fastest NWSL goal of Alex Morgan’s career.

After a fatal error from Campbell, Morgan tapped in a ball inside the second minute of the match and gave the Wave the lead early. Getting scored on so early seemed to have snuffed out Houston, who were unable to break down the Wave’s solid defense. Sierra Enge scored her first professional goal this match, as did Madison Pogarch who came to the Wave from Portland last season. Her shot was an incredible look from outside the box, and it sealed Houston’s fate in this game. The Dash couldn’t find productive time on the ball; they only had one shot on target the whole match. Similar to the Courage and Angel City, many of Houston’s shots went right over the goal or just wide, and their lack of ability to finish led to their demise as they couldn’t find the much needed momentum to stop San Diego.

At this point, it’s fair to say that beating the Red Stars isn’t a star-studded accomplishment. But beating them 4-0 is still notable considering the caliber of Alyssa Naeher, who still made several saves despite the scoreline.

Alyssa Naeher making a save for the Chicago Red Stars against the Portland Thorns in a 4-0 loss on May 21, 2023 (Photo Credit to IMAGN)

Portland finds themselves in a familiar position: with an incredible win at Providence Park, a Dunn goal and assist, two Coffey assists, and a Bixby clean sheet to take with them next week down to San Diego. Just the usual from the Thorns who had a dominant performance against the Red Stars. Chicago knows what they need to work on, which is most things actually. Their defensive structure isn’t working regardless of the quality of their players, and their midfield to backline connection is costing them precious goals.

With a long time to go before Mal Swanson is ready to set foot on a pitch again, the Red Stars will have to take a long look at their performances so far and figure out a structure that will get them back on track.

In what was expected to be much more of a close game, Gotham blew the Reign out of the water, putting up four goals and snatching all three points to leap to the top of the standings after the Spirit’s loss.

The bats took control of the game early, getting on the board in the 10th minute courtesy of a Jenna Nighswonger rocket from outside the box. It was quickly followed up with a Lynn Williams birthday goal, making this the third time she’s scored on her birthday, after Lu Barnes made a passing error, and by the twelfth minute Gotham was up by two. But their first half wasn’t over yet, as Taylor Smith’s goal in the 38th minute was a true team effort with critical passes from Farrelly and Sheehan to put Gotham up by three before halftime. They finished clinically with Bruninha’s first NWSL goal, and came away with a 4-1 victory, reminding everyone not to count out the bats during their 2023 redemption arc.

Bruninha #3, taking a shot at the goal during while Alana Cook #4 defends for Ol Reign on May 21, 2023 (Photo Credit to Gotham FC)

The Reign were able to get one back off a scrappy Jordyn Huitema tap in, but the home side didn’t look themselves, unable to bounce back and make something happen. This loss marks the first time since 2021 that the Reign have suffered two losses in a row, and they’ll be looking to make sure they don’t befall a third and slip further down the standings as they take on Angel City next weekend.


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