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The NWSL is on a mini-break ahead of international tournaments, and multiple teams decided to give us something to remember them by, in the form of outrageous goals. Of the TWENTY-FIVE GOALS that were scored across six games in three days, here are three that made us levitate with pure joy:
Volleys (striking the ball midair) are one of the most difficult techniques in soccer, but when executed well, produce the most aesthetically pleasing results. One thing that makes volleys so great is how players use them to wrangle physics to torment goalkeepers, and Denise O’ Sullivan’s strike is a perfect example.
The ball ricochets to her after being crossed in and before the defense and goalkeeper can reset, O’Sullivan injects lightning into the ball and sends it on a wicked trajectory over Jane Campbell and into goal. Note how high the ball is at its apex and the height it hits the net, wickedness.
A big chunk of why this goal is so special is because of who it beats. Alyssa Naeher is the USWNT’s undisputed starting goalkeeper. She’s the complete package as a keeper: hairline trigger reflexes, good leaping ability, flawless positioning, and intimidating presence. And Cece Kizer didn’t care about any of that.
The other thing that makes this goal great is that Kizer made the angle and strike more difficult for herself, but still delivered. She uses a nifty wriggle to shift the ball wide to create space, but it narrowed her angle and took her away from goal. The shot was a rocket off her boot, and Naeher getting a finger to it lets you know how special the strike truly was.
If Alyssa Naeher is the present, Casey Murphy might be the USWNT’s future starting goalkeeper. She’s 6’1 with incredible reflexes, which combine to allow Murphy to cover an absurd portion of the goal at all times. Attempting to chip a keeper of this caliber and height, in the box, first-time, is a level of madness most people don’t even have access to.
Getting the ball up and down that quickly from the body shape she had to contort into in order to angle the shot correctly, and without a touch to settle the ball is astounding. I still don’t truly understand it. I play FIFA22 a lot (maybe too much) and am going to spend the weekend trying to replicate this. I will fail, but it’s the closest I’ll ever get to staring into the God of Audacity’s mischievous eyes.