The NWSL Podium: Top Performances in Week 17

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The NWSL Podium: Top Performances is a weekly series that looks at the best attacking, defensive, and goalkeeping performances each week.

With the U.S. Women’s National Team players at training camp for the upcoming Tournament of Nations, Week 17 of NWSL action tested the depth of many rosters. It was a week of strong defensive action, with only six goals scored across four matches and only one team scoring more than one goal. The Utah Royals earned more points against the North Carolina Courage this week, playing to a scoreless draw in Rio Tinto Stadium. The Orlando Pride had an opportunity to take over the second place slot with a win against Seattle, but Jodie Taylor destroyed their hopes with a 70th minute equalizer that gave the Reign a point on the road. The playoff race remains tight, with only eight points separating No. 8 (Utah Royals) from No. 2 (Seattle Reign).

Here is a full breakdown of this week’s matches:

Utah Royals vs. North Carolina Courage (0-0)

Orlando Pride vs. Seattle Reign (1-1)

Sky Blue vs. Portland Thorns (1-2)

Washington Spirit vs. Houston Dash (0-1)

Top Three Goalkeepers

1. Jane Campbell— Campbell earned her second shutout of the season in Sunday’s match against the Washington Spirit. Rachel Daly gave the Dash the early lead, but it was Campbell’s job to defend those points. She faced 23 shots from the Spirit offense and made nine saves. Her best save came towards the end of the match, when Ashley Hatch launched a shot from just outside the 18-yard box. Hatch was aiming for the top corner, but Campbell was able to punch the ball out of bounds. Campbell’s performance earned her the title of NWSL Player of the Week. 

2. Haley Kopmeyer Kopmeyer earned her second start of the season due to Ashlyn Harris being with the U.S Women’s National Team ahead of the Tournament of Nations. Kopmeyer also faced her former team, the Seattle Reign, for the second time this season— although this team it was on the Pride’s pitch. Kopmeyer faced 18 shots and made six saves. In the 17th minute, the Reign took a free kick and Seattle headed the ball towards goal, but Kopmeyer forced the ball into the air before catching it. Jodie Taylor also had a good shot in the 37th minute that Kopmeyer deflected off the tips of her fingers. This earned her an NWSL Save of the Week nomination.

3. Britt Eckerstrom— Eckerstrom found herself between the posts again this weekend after Adriana Franch received a call-up to the U.S Women’s National Team. Eckerstrom came up big for the Thorns when they traveled to face Sky Blue. Despite a final score that favored the Thorns, Sky Blue had more than twice as many shots. Eckerstrom made four saves, including one in stoppage time that stopped Imani Dorsey from picking up a late equalizer. The shot came off a beautiful cross from Savannah McCaskill, who got ahead of the Portland defense. Dorsey was right in front of the net, but Eckerstrom had an impressive kick save that sent the ball back into the box. A follow-up shot was blocked by Ellie Carpenter. This save earned the two players an NWSL Save of the Week nomination.

Top Three Defenders

1. Rachel Corsie—Corsie had another stellar week in the Royals scoreless draw against the North Carolina Courage. She finished the match with four clearances, two interceptions, and one block. That block came in the 88th minute, when Heather O’Reilley played a long ball to Lynn Williams to start a North Carolina counterattack. Williams made her way into the box, but Corsie sprinted down the field and came in to clear Williams’ shot. She won the Week 17 Save of the Week honors, giving her the title for the second week in a row.

2. Becca Moros— Moros also had a great game for the Utah Royals. She had a game-high of 97 touches, won nine out of her ten duels, and made two interceptions. In the 31st minute, Lynn Williams tried to launch a North Carolina counterattack. But Moros followed the striker down the field and picked the perfect moment to strip her of the ball.

3. Toni Pressley— Pressley made the news this week for her attacking skill, but she had a solid defensive game for the Pride as well. Her goal came in the 21st minute. Chioma Ubogagu sent a ball into the box, and it bounced to the feet of Pressley. Pressley was able to keep the ball away from the defenders and use her strength launch a shot that Williams had no chance to stop. But Pressley also had an important block at the start of the second half, when Jodie Taylor was looking to equalize for the Reign. Kopmeyer came off her line to try to block Taylor, but Pressley backed her up. The ball bounced off Pressley’s back and then she cleared it out of bounds.

Top Three Attackers

1. Haley Raso— Raso opened up scoring early for the Portland Thorns in their match against Sky Blue. Christine Sinclair sent the ball forward and Raso was quicker than the Sky Blue backline. She only had to beat Dominique Richardson, which she did with a nice side-step. She put the ball past Caroline Stanley in the 4th minute to put the Thorns on the board. Raso also played a role in the second goal, just three minutes later. She pressured the defense, forcing Stanley to make a bad pass that was intercepted by Ana Crnogorcevic and sent into the back of the net. Raso finished the night with two shots and four clearances.

2. Jodie Taylor—Taylor was critical in earning her team a point on the road when they visited Orlando this weekend. She scored the Reign’s lone goal of the night in the 70th minute, finishing a cross from Nahomi Kawasumi and beating her former teammate, Haley Kopmeyer. Taylor created most of the chances for the Reign, getting six shots and four shots on goal. Her equalizer is her sixth goal of the year.

3. Imani Dorsey— Dorsey has two goals for Sky Blue in their last three matches, and is only one goal behind Carli Lloyd and Savannah McCaskill for the team leader. Dorsey’s goal against Portland came in the 27th minute, when Savannah McCaskill sent a ball through the defense and Dorsey was able to take the shot, beating Britt Eckerstrom. That same duo nearly scored the equalizer in the final moments of the match, but were denied by a brilliant stop from Eckerstrom. Dorsey finished the game with two shots and four crosses.

Image courtesy of Corri Goates