It was an exciting weekend of games in the NWSL, with 17 goals scored across the six games. The Houston Dash, Portland Thorns FC, Chicago Red Stars, NJ/NY Gotham FC, and North Carolina Courage all shut out their opponents and added to their win columns, while the Kansas City Current and San Diego Wave FC battled to a 2-2 draw that saw an Alex Morgan equalizer for San Diego in the 90th minute.
Perhaps the most entertaining part of the weekend’s slate of games, though, was that we witnessed several club and player-level milestones.
HOUSTON’S HISTORIC WIN
The Houston Dash recorded their first-ever hat trick over the weekend during a 5-0 win over the Orlando Pride, thanks to a lights-out performance by Nichelle Prince. It was also Prince’s first NWSL hat trick.
The Dash’s win was by the largest margin since a 6-1 win against Sky Blue FC (now NJ/NY Gotham FC) in 2018. This time, though, they also recorded a shutout. It was goalkeeper Jane Campbell and the Dash’s third shutout of the regular season.
Prince opened the scoring in the 27th minute after Rachel Daly played a brilliant ball over the top of Orlando’s backline. There were four Pride defenders in the box, but they were clearly no match for Prince.
Daly doubled the Dash’s lead off a diving header shortly after, in the 32nd minute. Maria Sanchez played a perfectly weighted ball into Daly for the assist, and the Dash’s build-up through the midfield was on full display. Before the game, Daly celebrated her 100th NWSL appearance. This was also the last game she’ll play for Houston until after the UEFA Women’s Euros (mid-August 2022).
What a goal.
Prince scored her second goal in the 39th minute. I’m not one to argue a hat trick, but if this goal were ruled an own-goal off of former Dash player Megan Montefusco, I wouldn’t have been surprised.
Prince’s third and final goal of the match came in the 49th minute off a Shea Groom assist. Groom beat her defender at the end-line and played a ball into Prince, who ultimately one-timed a ball over McCleod and into the side-netting. Michelle Alozie also notched her first-ever NWSL goal in the 87th minute to ice Houston’s win.
The Dash, who undoubtedly put on their most complete performance of the season on Saturday, sit in second place. They are now unbeaten in their last five games, and sit atop the league in both goal scored (11, tied with Chicago) and goals against (3) in the 2022 regular season.
MILESTONES GALORE FOR THE PORTLAND THORNS
Houston’s Alozie wasn’t the only player to record their first NWSL goal this weekend. Portland Thorns FC’s Kelli Hubly netted her first goal in the 15th minute against Angel City. The goal ended up being the game-winner, as Portland dominated Angel City 3-0.
Hubly’s goal was a laser off a Sophia Smith corner. Smith played a ball into the penalty spot, and Hubly headed it past an immobile Didi Haracic.
Canadian legend Christine Sinclair scored another goal just three minutes later, after Hina Sugita dispossessed an Angel City midfielder in their final third. Sinclair also connected with fellow Canadian Janine Beckie in the 69th minute to score Portland’s third goal of the match. Sugita and Beckie’s assists were their first in regular season play for the Thorns.
That was Sinclair’s eighth multi-goal NWSL regular season game. She moved into second all-time in NWSL regular season goals rankings, tied with Lynn Williams (57) and only behind Sam Kerr (77).
NORTH CAROLINA FINALLY WINS
The North Carolina Courage won their first regular season match on Saturday after putting up three unanswered goals against Racing Louisville FC. It was Courage goalkeeper Casey Murphy’s first clean sheet of the season and she recorded three saves in the win.
Defender Kaleigh Kurtz scored in the fourth minute to open her NWSL account. Rookie Diana Ordónez scored her second goal in as many games in stoppage time of the first half (45+1’) off a brilliant Mathias cross, and Debinha capped off the scoring in stoppage time of the second half. Taylor Smith played a ball over the Louisville backline and Debinha slotted it past goalkeeper Katie Lund (rather nonchalantly, I might add).
Though it’s hard to find a bright spot in a 3-0 loss, Racing’s Nadia Nadim returned to the field for the first time over the weekend as well, 266 days after tearing her ACL, MCL, and meniscus.
Now, we’ll turn our attention to some mid-week action that’s coming up in the NWSL. Angel City FC will be taking on the Houston Dash at home on Tuesday, June 7th (10 p.m. ET), and the Washington Spirit will travel to Chicago to battle the Red Stars on Wednesday, June 8th (8 p.m. ET).
One last thing in the world of women’s soccer. I’d be remiss if I didn’t include an update on USWNT and Olympique Lyonnais forward Catarina Macario’s injury that forced her to exit Lyon’s final match of the season on Wednesday. Macario recently announced in a statement that she suffered a torn ACL, which will sideline her as the USWNT attempts to qualify for the Olympics and the World Cup this summer, and likely for the beginning of next season. Here’s to a speedy recovery.