By Meg Linehan, with additional research by Jacqueline Purdy
There are stories to be found in statistics. From analyzing the box scores to keeping detailed spreadsheets tracking our favorite stats, we’re ready to shine a bright light for you thanks to Opta. After digging into this week’s data, here’s a look at some trends as we pass the midpoint of the 2017 season in the National Women’s Soccer League.Control, command, corner kicks
The North Carolina Courage have controlled the top of the table so far this season, along with a few of the Opta stat columns. But there’s one in particular that jumps out: corner kick accuracy. The Courage are ranked No. 1 in the league with a 64.1 percent accuracy rate on 78 corners (Opta excludes short corners from this stat, though the Courage have 89 total).
FC Kansas City is in second place, but it’s not even close. In fact, no other team is even about 50 percent in their corner kick accuracy. The Blues have a 45.7 percent accuracy rate for 35 corner kicks. There’s actually a 50 percent difference between the Courage and Washington Spirit, who are tenth in the league for corner kick accuracy at 14.0 percent on 50 corners.
A big part of the reason why the Courage are enjoying some boosted stats on their set pieces: they force more corner kicks than any other team in the league. They lead the league with 89 total. The second-ranked Houston Dash have 62. In the 11 games the Courage have played so far, they’ve only conceded 42 corner kicks to their opponents total.
Courage defender Abby Dahlkemper leads the leagues in corner kicks taken with 67.
Their corner kick domination has payed off in goals scored as well. Jessica McDonald’s record-breaking goal came after an Dahlkemper corner kick in Boston. And while they didn’t pick up a win in Chicago on May 27, defender Abby Erceg headed in a Samantha Mewis corner kick. The Courage are able to maintain a high level of offensive pressure, and corner kicks are a big part of their 8-3-0 record so far in 2017.
How do you measure a goal?
After last week’s Opta Tweet of the Week, we wanted to take a deeper look at some of the top goal scorers in the NWSL this season. While after last Saturday’s loss to the Houston Dash, Marta’s average has gone up to 148.6 minutes per goal, she’s also only nine games and five goals into her NWSL career.
For some of the league’s leading scorers with a bit more history under their belts, their numbers aren’t actually that far off from Marta’s limited sample.
Christen Press, forward for the Chicago Red Stars, has scored 28 goals in 47 games played. That’s good for one goal scored every 149.0 minutes — and the most effective for the leading scorers in the NWSL. Portland Thorns forward Nadia Nadim scores one goal every 169.1 minutes, and that career number is in large part thanks to a brilliant 2014 campaign. In her first season in the league with Sky Blue FC, she scored seven goals in 495 minutes played, for a goal every 70.7 minutes.
Houston Dash forward Carli Lloyd scored her first goal of the 2017 season on Saturday to bring her career total to 26. Over her career 4,792 minutes in the NWSL regular season, she scored a goal every 184.3 minutes.
Sky Blue FC forward Sam Kerr just cracked 30 goals scored through her five years in the league, and has scored one every 177.5 minutes played. Kerr also has the distinction of leading the league in shooting accuracy this season, with a 72 percent rate that tops players with at least 16 shots.Team effort
Four different players from the Orlando Pride have won the NWSL Save of the Week Award for the 2017 season. Defender Steph Catley was the latest for her clearance during Week 10 action against the Houston Dash. Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris has won twice in 2017, in Weeks 1 and 4, along with goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe in Week 9. Catley’s fellow defender Monica also won the honors back in Week 2.
One other notable stat for Save of the Week and the Orlando Pride: Marta has forced the most award nominations this year with four attempts on goal turning into highlight-reel saves for her opponents. That includes this week’s candidate from Dash goalkeeper Jane Campbell, along with saves from North Carolina Courage’s Sabrina D’Angelo in Week 3, Seattle Reign FC’s Haley Kopmeyer in Week 6, and Boston Breakers’ Abby Smith in Week 8. Sky Blue FC forward Kelley O’Hara is second with three Save of the Week nominations forced.When the goals were scored
It’s always worth keeping track of when teams are scoring and conceding goals, but there are some relevant numbers from the season so far that could play into Week 11’s midweek games.
The Chicago Red Stars are heading to Seattle, and they’re the only team in the league still yet to score during the opening 15 minutes of play. The Red Stars have split the goal scoring between the two halves fairly evenly so far, with six first half goals and eight second half goals, but they are the only team without that big early advantage so far this year.
Seattle, for their part, has been equally goal happy in both halves of their games so far, with their 20 goals split evenly between the first and second. They do slightly favor the tail end of the first half, with five goals scored between the 31st minute and the half.
The only other team to break double digits for second half scoring is Sky Blue FC, who scored 10 of their 16 total goals in the second half.
Three teams share the struggle of late conceding this season: Seattle, Orlando and Washington have all allowed four goals in the final 15 minutes of play.
Finally, the Boston Breakers will hope to hold the Houston Dash scoreless for the whole game when they travel to BBVA Compass Stadium on Wednesday night — but their particular challenge will be making it through the first 15 minutes without conceding. They lead the league with seven goals allowed at the start of the game, and no other team has more than two. Granted, Boston has conceded the fewest second half goals this season with four so far. But they’ve also only scored four second half goals themselves, tied for fewest in the league.Opta Tweet of the Week
23 – Carli Lloyd has won 23 duels in her first two Houston Dash games this season, the most in NWSL since June 17th. Warrior. pic.twitter.com/ADETGExBJ7
— OptaJack (@OptaJack) June 26, 2017