Outside the Box Scores: Nothing like a late game-changer
A deep dive into regular-season goals scored in the 90th minute or later
Kristen Edmonds scored two goals after the 90th minute in 2016 vs. the Boston Breakers, both the equalizer and game-winning goal. (Photo credit: Roy K. Miller for isiphotos.com)
Kristen Edmonds scored two goals after the 90th minute in 2016 vs. the Boston Breakers, both the equalizer and game-winning goal. (Photo credit: Roy K. Miller for isiphotos.com)

Featuring research by Tyler Dencker.

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, we decided to do a deep dive into late goals through all five seasons of the National Women’s Soccer League.

To the 90th minute and beyond

Last week in Outside the Box Scores, we only looked at the late game dramatics that seem to happen at Yurcak Field involving Sky Blue FC.  And then it happened again: on July 15, Sam Kerr scored in the 90th minute changing the outcome of a game. Kerr is now the only player in NWSL history to score in the 90th minute or later two games in a row — and the only player to score a deciding goal in the 90th minute or later two games in a row.

Kerr’s not the first player to change the way a game has ended twice, but she’s in some solid company on that front. Five other players have two career goals in the 90th minute or later that have either equalized for their club or won the game during the regular season: Diana Matheson (during her time with the Washington Spirit), Lynn Williams (as a forward with the Western New York Flash), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), Kristen Edmonds (Orlando Pride) and Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC).

Edmonds stands out on the list, as she’s the only player to ever two goals in the 90th minute or later of a regular season match. She tallied the equalizer for the Pride in the 90th minute against the Boston Breakers last season, then added the game-winning goal in the 90+3’ as well.

Overall, there have been 35 goals scored through all regular season games since 2013. There have been 16 game-winning goals, and 17 equalizers. Of the 456 regular season games played through this past weekend, 34 games have been decided in the 90th minute or later — only 7.5% of the NWSL regular season.

And yes, Michelle Betos of the Portland Thorns remains the only goalkeeper to ever score a stoppage time stunner.

Now, while there have been plenty of late goals so far this season, there is one reason why we might have them on the brain this month. On July 8, three different games were decided by a goal in the 90th minute or later — an event that has never happened in the NWSL before. Portland Thorns midfielder Lindsey Horan’s equalizing free kick in Houston, the Washington Spirit’s equalizing penalty kick from Mallory Pugh, and Kerr’s winner (and hat trick earner) in New Jersey were the first three goals this season to decide a game in the 90th minute or later. Kerr then provided her own repeat performance on July 15th against the Chicago Red Stars for the fourth so far this season. In 2016, there were only five total 90’+ goals that changed the outcome of a game.

Considering the data from a team level, the North Carolina Courage have yet to either score or concede a stoppage time goal — though the Western New York Flash scored five and allowed two during their time in the NWSL. The Washington Spirit have scored the most late deciding goals in 90’+, with seven, followed by the Chicago Red Stars with six, and Sky Blue FC with five.

Notably, the Houston Dash have never scored an equalizer or game-winner after the 90th minute of a regular season game.

Four teams have only allowed two late goals to drop points: Portland Thorns FC, Seattle Reign FC, Washington Spirit and the Orlando Pride. Sky Blue FC and the Boston Breakers have conceded the most, with six each through all regular season games played to date.

So far in 2017, there have six total goals scored in the 90th minute or later. So while we might see more deciding goals late this year compared to last season, the overall rate between the two seasons is comparable. By the end of the regular season in 2016, there were 16 90’+ goals, with 5 being game-changers. Last summer, no one in the NWSL scored a late game-changer during the regular season after the end of July — and with the feel of the 2017 season so far, it’s probably safe to assume all bets are off for the close of the 2017 season.

Quick hits

Portland Thorns FC goalkeeper Adrianna Franch picked up her seventh shut-out of the season in the 1-0 defeat of the North Carolina Courage this past Saturday. In 2016, no other goalkeeper had more than six. The single-season record for clean sheets is 10, set by FC Kansas City’s Nicole Barnhart in 2013.

The Orlando Pride had contributions from all over the field in Saturday’s 4-1 win over FC Kansas City, but Alex Morgan contributed a solid 90 minutes beyond converting the penalty kick for her first goal of the 2017 season. She led the team with seven shots and four shots on goal. She also led the Pride with four key passes, and perhaps most important in Orlando’s quest for the playoffs: she and Marta both created four chances each in that game. They’ll need to replicate that against a top team to prove they’re real postseason contenders, but the Game of the Week on Lifetime against the Chicago Red Stars should give them the perfect opportunity to do just that.

It’s not just the Houston Dash stringing together some solid performances after a losing streak (as noted in the Opta Tweet of the Week below). The Boston Breakers are four games in to an unbeaten streak after a four-game losing streak earlier this summer. On Saturday, those two teams will battle to see whose streak continues when the Dash host the Breakers at 8:30 p.m. ET. Of course, the Breakers have one other streak they’d actually like to end, as they are still looking for their first win on the road in 2017.

Opta Tweet of the Week


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