Abby Dahlkemper led another dominant defensive effort as the North Carolina Courage earned a 2-0 victory over the Washington Spirit in Week 17 that allowed the league leaders to maintain their five-point cushion atop the standings.
The shutout was the 10th of the season for the Courage – who now are one clean sheet shy of matching the single-season NWSL record set by FC Kansas City in 2013.
Perhaps even more impressive, the North Carolina backline of Dahlkemper, Abby Erceg, Jaelene Hinkle and Taylor Smith as well as goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland have conceded just 14 goals in 18 matches this year. If they can maintain that form, their current 0.78 goals against average would set a new single-season mark – topping the 2014 Seattle Reign (0.83 GAA).
Elsewhere in the league, Samantha Kerr laid down a marker in the MVP race with the first four-goal game in league history as she led Sky Blue FC back from a three-goal deficit to come away with a 5-4 win over Seattle.
See below for where your club sits after a shakeup in the power rankings.
13-5-0, 39 pts
Ashley Hatch scored her fifth goal of an impressive rookie campaign to help the Courage to a 2-0 win against Washington. The league leaders can clinch a playoff spot through a number of different scenarios – the simplest of which is a win over Houston in Week 18.
8-6-5, 29 pts
The Pride won their third straight behind a two-goal performance from Alex Morgan in a 2-1 victory over Boston. The U.S. international has seven goals and two assists in eight appearances since her mid-season return as Orlando has charged into playoff contention.
10-5-4, 34 pts
The Thorns recovered from a midweek loss to FC Kansas City with a 2-0 home victory against Houston as Portland won for the fifth time in the last six games – with Meghan Klingenberg assisting on the game-winning goal in three of those victories.
6-8-5, 23 pts
The Blues racked up two big wins in Week 17 – a 2-1 victory over Portland and a 3-1 win against Chicago. FC Kansas City have now won three straight for the first time since 2015 and pulled within six points of a playoff spot after being 12 points back just over a week ago.
7-6-6, 27 pts
What a rollercoaster week for the Reign. Seattle became only the second team in league history to rally for a win after trailing at the 85-minute mark in a 2-1 victory against Chicago. But they followed it up by becoming the first team to lose after leading by three goals – as well as the first team to be defeated when leading after 90 minutes – in a 5-4 loss against Sky Blue FC.
8-9-2, 26 pts
It’s hard to understate just how dominant Kerr has been this season – with her record-setting four-goal effort in a comeback 5-4 win against Seattle a signature performance in what could be an MVP year. The Australia international now has 15 goals on the season – one shy of tying the single-season record.
8-6-5, 29 pts
The Red Stars dropped two games in Week 17 – a 2-1 setback against Seattle during the midweek followed by a 3-1 defeat to FC Kansas City. Chicago has now lost three straight for the second time in club history and will look to avoid four consecutive losses when they take on Washington in Week 18.
7-10-2, 23 pts
The Dash fell to their third defeat the last four games with a 2-0 road loss to Portland. Houston enter Week 18 six points back of a playoff place and with a lot of work to do over their last five games.
4-10-4, 16 pts
The Spirit suffered their sixth shutout of the season – and second in the last three games – in a 2-0 loss to North Carolina. Week 18 will be a challenge with home games against Chicago and the Courage.
3-9-7, 16 pts
Amanda Da Costa scored the latest goal in NWSL history with her 98th-minute penalty. But it wasn’t enough to keep the Breakers from falling to a 2-1 loss against Orlando. If Boston is unable to take all three points against Sky Blue in Week 18 it will be third time this year the Breakers complete a calendar month without a win.