We’ve taken a look at some of college’s best talents so far, but with the NWSL recently releasing a list of players who have registered for the draft, we can focus even further.
nOne of the most difficult things to do in the NWSL is score goals consistently. Every top European league has had a player hit the 20 goal mark within the last two full seasons, but the NWSL’s highest-ever goal tally in a season was Sam Kerr’s 18 in 2019. Last season, USWNT stars Alex Morgan (15) and Sophia Smith (14) topped the scoring charts, but rookie Diana Ordóñez set a new mark for most goals in a season by a rookie, with 11.
That said, let's take a look at a couple prospects who’ve registered for the draft who could threaten Ordóñez’s record.
School: TCU, Senior (Grad Student)
Player Profile: Inevitable
When it comes to scoring goals, no one at TCU has done it better than Messiah Bright. Across just over 100 games for the Horned Frogs, Bright scored 50 goals and dished out 25 assists.
To succeed as a goalscorer in the NWSL, it is essential to know how to take advantage of transition moments, and Bright does. She understands spacing, creating passing angles, and which runs give her 1v1 advantages over defenders. However, and just as important, is not just the creation of shots but being able to put them on target. Throughout her career at TCU, Bright put 43% of her shots on target.
They say ‘the best ability is availability,’ and while rudimentary, the NWSL schedule can be brutal, particularly over the summer. Bright played over 20 games in all but one of her five seasons – and started every single game in which she was available. Of course it’s not just the being there that’s important. Bright is a smart, tenacious goalscorer with a variety of finishes already in her game.
I’m also a fan of how, every now and then, Bright opts for a change of scenery and drops into midfield to break some ankles:
School: University of Santa Clara, Senior
Player Profile: Goal Machine
D’Aquila is another scorer who hit the 50 goal mark in her college career. Impressively, she willed her way to the mark by netting 19 goals in 21 starts during her final season with the Broncos. Of Izzy’s 50 goals, a remarkable 17 were game-winners. This will tend to happen when a player racks up goals, but it’s notable that pressure to score is something she’s comfortable with.
What makes D’Aquila so difficult to stop is her versatility in attack. She’s good at timing runs in behind, creating space for a shot when 1v1, shooting from distance, and scoring headers. This variety helped her craft shots at goal from a variety of positions. Throughout her career, she was only below a 50% shot-on-target rate her freshman year.
Perhaps D’Aquila’s biggest attribute is her reaction time when spotting a chance. She’s incredibly quick to work out the positions of everyone who could stop her from shooting at goal, and develop a plan to bypass them. Instant acceleration helps her consistently beat defenders to the ball in dangerous areas. D’Aquila is also adept at dropping deeper into attacking midfield spaces to facilitate attacks.
Oh and I also need you to understand that D’Aquila has also mastered the art of levitation.