The NWSL Podium: Top Performances is a weekly series looking at the top three goalkeeping, defensive, and attacking performances each week. In week three of the NWSL, it was the attacking power that shined. There were 11 goals scored across the four matches, including six goals in the match between the Washington Spirit and the North Carolina Courage. Defenses struggled this weekend, but there were a handful of shining moments, including a goal-line save by the Utah Royals. The North Carolina Courage continued to prove why they are the best team in the NWSL, and in all matches except one, the away teams walked away with a win.
These were the week three matches:
Utah Royals vs. Chicago Red Stars (0-1)
Washington Spirit vs. North Carolina Courage (2-4)
Sky Blue FC vs. Seattle Reign (0-1)
Portland Thorns vs. Orlando Pride (2-1)
Top Three Goalkeepers
1. Kailen Sheridan— While Sky Blue FC failed to walk away with the win, Sheridan had the best save percentage in the NWSL this weekend. She faced eight shots from the Seattle Reign and saved three of them, including Seattle Reign’s second penalty kick late in the match. Sheridan blocked the initial shot and the rebound before her team cleared the ball, and while Sky Blue ultimately weren’t able to come back, Sheridan’s save kept them in the match.
2. Ashlyn Harris— Yes, Harris let two goals in during the match against the Portland Thorns. But one of those goals was a defensive failure and the other was a beauty from Lindsey Horan. Similar to Sheridan, Harris’s saves towards the end of the match kept her team alive. Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic had a chance to put the match away in the 85th minute, with some help from Ifeoma Onumonu, but Harris stretched her entire body out and blocked it on the ground. She also had an impressive diving save off a shot from Tyler Lussi in the 17th minute.
3. Michelle Betos— Statistically, Betos is the best goalkeeper in the league. She wasn’t tested too often in the Seattle Reign’s match against Sky Blue this weekend, facing only three shots. But her one save of the match came at a critical moment. In the 73rd minute, Shea Groom came charging down the field. Groom beat her defender and faced Betos with a chance for the equalizer, but Betos deflected the shot. The Reign maintained their lead and went on to win the match 1-0.
Top Three Defenders
1. Katherine Reynolds— Reynolds is a veteran NWSL defender who often goes unnoticed. But Reynolds is a consistent presence on the backline for the Portland Thorns and had a solid match on Sunday against the Orlando Pride. The Pride were itching for more after Chioma Ubogagu scored their first goal in the 20th minute, and the Thorns only had a one-goal margin. But Reynolds, along with Emily Sonnett and Kelli Hubly, kept the Pride at bay.
2. Lo’eau LaBonta— LaBonta is an attacking midfielder, but she had the nicest single moment of defense from the weekend. In the 48th minute, Chicago earned a corner kick. Danielle Colaprico sent the ball into the box. Eventually, Sofia Huerta headed the ball past Abby Smith, but LaBonta cleared the ball on the goal line. There weren’t many shining moments of defense this weekend, but this was one of them.
3. Ali Krieger— Krieger has an energy that is infectious on the field, and that came across in this weekend’s match against the Thorns. Krieger played on the right side in the Pride’s triple-center back formation, and kept her energy high the whole match. She even had a few shots of her own, but ultimately the Pride failed to get their second goal.
Top Three Attackers
1. McCall Zerboni— Zerboni had two goals in Saturday’s explosive 4-2 win for the North Carolina Courage over the Washington Spirit. Zerboni’s first goal came off a free kick in the 24th minute. After a tap from Lynn Williams, Zerboni snuck the ball just past Aubrey Bledsoe on the far left. Her second goal came in the 48th minute, off an assist from Kristen Hamilton. Hamilton kept the ball in play and drew Bledsoe towards her. She passed the ball to Zerboni, who turned and put it in the back of the net.
2. Danielle Colaprico— Colaprico scored the lone goal in the match between the Utah Royals and the Chicago Red Stars, and it was arguably the best goal of the weekend. In the 24th minute, the Utah Royals defense attempted to clear the ball from their 18-yard box. Colaprico stood on the edge of the box and blocked the clearance. Before settling the ball, she threw her power behind the shot and nailed it in the top right corner.
3. Lindsey Horan— Horan had another stellar goal from outside the box this weekend. The Thorns went down early on in their match against the Pride, but shortly after Chioma Ubogagu’s goal for the Pride, Christine Sinclair passed the ball to Horan just outside of the Pride’s 18-yard box. Horan dribbled a bit before setting up the shot on her left foot and finding the back of the net. The ball shot across the box, past goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris, and into the far corner. Horan also assisted on Christine Sinclair’s game-winning goal about ten minutes later and was an attacking presence for Portland the entire match.