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Stanford in the NWSL: Chapter 12

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The NWSL’s Super Saturday started two hours later than planned, after a delayed start in Chicago. Tornado warnings prevented fans and players from entering the stadium on time, and the severe weather prompted the organization to postpone the game by almost two hours.

When Chicago finally took on Louisville, the home team ultimately fell 3-0. The loss put Chicago eighth in the table, tying them with Kansas City for the worst goal differential of eight goals.

Starting just before, Gotham FC traveled to the scorching hot Tacoma to take on the Reign. The Reign would also lose 3-0 at home, placing them ninth in the table. Later in the day, NWSL fans saw a classic matchup between the North Carolina Courage and the Portland Thorns. The longtime rivals last met on Sept. 11, 2019, when the Courage took down the Thorns 5-0. Saturday’s result was not much better for the Thorns — they lost 2-0 to a Lynn Williams brace.

Starting soon after was the much-anticipated Space Race between the Houston Dash and the Orlando Pride. Stunning many fans, the Dash defeated the Pride 2-1, ending their seven-game win streak.

The final game of the night took place between Kansas City and Washington. While Kansas City started the game with a third-minute goal, the Spirit came back in the second half to dominate. Goals from Ashley Sanchez and Trinity Rodman robbed Kansas City of its first victory, leaving them with zero points in a 2-1 loss.

Alana Cook and Sam Hiatt start on the back line for OL Reign again

Alana Cook ’19 and Sam Hiatt ’19 were once again the starting center backs for the OL Reign side. Despite their immense talent, however, the defensive efforts were a mess against a strong Gotham side. In the 38th minute, French goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi was caught way off her line, allowing a tap-in goal from the Gotham side.

Further defensive mistakes came in the 60th and 86th minute, allowing Gotham to put away three goals — the backline, as a whole, was completely torn apart. The three most crucial parts of the backline — Bouhaddi, Cook and Hiatt — have all just begun their seasons with the Reign, and the lack of chemistry is showing.

Davidson starts for Chicago, Louisville could climb

Recent Olympic call-up and former Cardinal Tierna Davidson ’19 led the Chicago Red Stars once more. Despite another hard loss for the Red Stars, Davidson looked solid heading into the Olympic period. In her last game for the team before heading to Tokyo, Davidson proved once more how much of a leader she is on the field. Despite going down at home, Davidson propelled her team to finish strong, not allowing a goal after the 61st minute.

Louisville had a fantastic showing, leaving fans wondering what the league will look like during the Olympics. Louisville is currently sitting sixth on the table, just above the playoff line. Still, Louisville is losing significantly fewer starters to the international competition, putting it in a prime position to climb the table. Fans could be looking at the new expansion team solidifying its place in the playoffs.

Smith unavailable once more

Portland took another hard loss to North Carolina this past weekend, and Sophia Smith ’22 was once again unavailable for the match. Smith’s sporadic availability for the club is not a good sign heading into the Olympic period.

Jane Campbell and the Dash are the first to take down Ali Riley and the Pride

After a hard-fought game, the Orlando Pride came up just short with a 2-1 loss to the Houston Dash. Jane Campbell ’17 may have saved the game in the first minute of second-half stoppage time as Alex Morgan put up a dangerous shot. The save propelled the Dash into a huge victory.

On Orlando’s backline, tired legs got the best of the team. After playing the previous weekend and a Wednesday-night game on the road, Saturday’s game was a brutal undertaking for a team.

Ali Riley ’10 has been a reliable outside back for the dominating team, and continued to be on Saturday. Even so, the backline was still running with tired legs, just trying to keep up.

After suffering its first loss of the season, Orlando still sits at the top of the table and continues to charge on. Both teams will be losing huge players, such as Campbell and Riley, during the Olympic break.

Kiki Pickett makes her NWSL debut, Labonta gets a yellow

Kiki Pickett ’21 made her NWSL debut as a sub around the 60th minute for Kansas City. The former Cardinal signed a contract with the club after finishing up her senior season this spring at Stanford.

Another former Cardinal, Lo’eau Labonta ’14, started for Kansas City this weekend, picking up an early yellow card in the 33rd minute. Labonta has become a constant for the team, making her presence known within the organization.

Sullivan leads Washington

After a tight race to a 2-1 victory over Kansas City, Washington found itself holding a top spot in the table. Former Cardinal Andi Sullivan ’18 deserves credit for the team’s play — she has been serving cross-ins on platters to young playmakers Trinity Rodman and Ashley Hatch. Sitting low in the midfield, Sullivan has become crucial to Washington’s ability to get the ball forward.

In an interview on the NWSL Twitch channel done Tuesday, Rodman, one of the youngest rookies in the league, gave a shoutout to Sullivan, expressing how much she has helped with the adaptation to soccer at the pro-level.

Coming up next

Friday will feature three matches. Gotham will take on Kansas City, Washington will face Chicago and the Reign will head south to visit Houston.

On Saturday, Racing Louisville will take on Portland.

On Sunday, the Orlando Pride will face the North Carolina Courage.

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Jenna Ruzekowicz is a staff writer in the sports section. She is a sophomore from Syracuse, New York majoring in Computer Science. Her teams include: Portland Thorns, Arsenal and Man City. Contact her at jruzekowicz 'at' stanforddaily.com.