- Eight teams are in the midst of a tight playoff race in the NWSL right now. And in the midst of that race, teams are breaking records and doing new things left and right
- Today, we’re zooming out on some of those records and firsts
This is an excerpt from Monday’s Weekend Recap. Subscribe to our free newsletter to get future editions of the Weekend Recap delivered right to your inbox.
The NWSL is heating up.
Eight teams are in the midst of a tight playoff race and, even though most of them have just two games left to play, all six playoff spots are still up for grabs. With all that’s at stake this late in the season, this weekend’s slate of games in the NWSL did not disappoint. Records were broken and milestones were reached over the weekend, both for better and for worse.
I’m a bad-news-first kind of person, so let’s start with the ‘for worse’.
NJ/NY Gotham FC tied the longest single-season losing streak in the NWSL with their loss to the Washington Spirit. Ironically, Washington was the former lone record holder.
Gotham can avoid setting a new losing record if they manage to steal points from OL Reign on Wednesday, but since the Reign have secured 10 points in their last four matches on the road, we’ll probably have a new record soon. And despite Washington’s 2-0 win, the reigning NWSL Champions were officially eliminated from playoff consideration after OL Reign’s victory against North Carolina on Saturday.
Now, onto the ‘for better’!
SAN DIEGO WAVE SHATTERED THE NWSL’S ATTENDANCE RECORD
There were 32,000 fans in attendance at Snapdragon Stadium to watch the San Diego Wave take on Angel City for the second time this season. That mark surpassed the record set at Providence Park in 2019, when the Portland Thorns took on the North Carolina Courage in front of a crowd of 25,218.
This new NWSL record is roughly 2,000 fans shy of the official attendance record for a professional women’s soccer match in the U.S. (34,148).
Lucky for those 32,000 people, the Wave put on a show. Seventeen-year old Jaedyn Shaw scored her third goal in as many starts for the Wave, and goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan came up big with her third penalty-kick save of the season to preserve San Diego’s lead late in the game. With the goal, Shaw became just the second player in NWSL history to score in their first three appearances (Renae Cuellar was the first).
On the heels of a 4-3 loss, the Wave needed a win to stay in the NWSL Shield race. They clearly took care of business.
OL REIGN SECURED THEIR FIRST-EVER WIN IN CARY, NORTH CAROLINA
The North Carolina Courage are still trying to avoid missing the playoffs for the first time in their history. With five wins in their last six games, they came into Saturday’s match as one of the hottest teams in the league.
The OL Reign put a stop to the Courage’s hot streak, though, thanks to a Megan Rapinoe free kick in the 26th minute. North Carolina’s wall was totally ineffective, and Rapinoe sent a ball through the wall and past a diving Casey Murphy at the near post. That was the 33rd goal the Courage have conceded this season, which is only fewer than last place NJ/NY Gotham FC and ninth place Orlando Pride. The usually-lethal Courage attack was also stifled in this match, and their lone goal came via an Alana Cook own goal.
With the win, the Reign beat the Courage on the road for the first time in history, snapping their six-game losing streak at WakeMed Soccer Park.
HOUSTON DASH TIED THEIR SINGLE-SEASON WIN RECORD
The Houston Dash won their ninth game of the season after Ebony Salmon scored her ninth goal of the season. That ties Houston’s single-season win record from 2018 and brings the Dash closer to their first-ever playoff berth. The Dash seem poised to make the playoffs with just two games remaining in their regular season schedule and the NWSL Shield is also still firmly within their reach.
For one of the Dash or the San Diego Wave, making the playoffs for the first time and winning the Shield in the same season is a real possibility.
KANSAS CITY CURRENT SCORED THEIR FIRST-EVER GOAL AGAINST THE PORTLAND THORNS
This game, which finished 1-1, was a back-and-forth battle. Portland recorded 29 shots, with nine of those on target. Kansas City goalkeeper AD Franch was lights out against her former club, though, and made eight saves in the match to keep the score tied until very late in the game.
The Thorns finally put a shot past Franch in the 87th minute, but the Current responded only seven minutes later: Hailie Mace scored a rocket off a free kick just outside the box in the 94th minute. It was the first goal Kansas City have ever scored against Portland and ultimately denied the Thorns a chance to return to the top of the table.
If this Kansas City-Portland matchup was any indication of how the playoffs will go this season, things are going to be wild.