Seattle, WA (May 21, 2023) — Gotham FC secured a dominating 4-1 victory over the reigning Supporters’ Shield winners OL Reign on Sunday at Lumen Field in Seattle. With four goals scored by four different goal scorers, Gotham FC has ascended into first place in the National Women’s Soccer League standings with 16 points.
The scoring started early, when in the 10th minute, midfielder Jenna Nighswonger, who started at defense, cranked a shot from distance, burying the ball into the bottom right corner. Nighswonger was assisted by midfielder Kristie Mewis. The goal marks Nighswonger’s second of her rookie season and the second time she has scored in the first half after she opened the scoring in Gotham FC’s 2-1 win over the Chicago Red Stars on May 7.
Two minutes after Nighswonger’s goal on Sunday against OL Reign, Gotham FC forward Lynn Williams beat her defender, putting Reign goalkeeper Phallon Tullis-Joyce on her heels in a one-on-one in the box to score in the back left corner of the goal. It is the fastest in club history that Gotham has scored two goals in a regular season match.
Gotham FC’s third goal came in the 38th minute, when midfielder Sinead Farrelly passed the ball to forward Delanie Sheehan, who played in forward Taylor Smith. Smith struck her shot from the center of the box, sinking the ball into the left side.
In the 24th minute, Gotham FC goalkeeper Abby Smith – NWSL Player of the Week presented by Bud Light – made a huge save after Reign forward Jordyn Huitema broke through the defense for a shot from the left side to preserve the 2-0 scoreline. She came up with another first-half save in the 44th minute, grabbing a shot from Reign forward Bethany Balcer to maintain the club’s clean sheet through the first half.
In the second half, the goalkeeper made another crucial save in the 59th minute, coming out to block Balcer’s shot on a counter attack.
Scoring the club’s fourth and final goal was Gotham FC and Brazilian National Team defender Bruninha, who notched her first NWSL career goal after striking from close range to bring the score to 4-0.
Gotham FC goalkeeper Abby Smith made multiple big plays to foil OL Reign’s attempts at scoring. However, in the 77th minute, Reign forward Huitema finished off a corner kick for the 4-1 final result.
With Sunday’s performance, Gotham FC became the first NWSL team to score three goals against OL Reign in the first half. The last time Gotham FC scored four or more goals was April 20, 2021 against North Carolina, where the final score was 4-3.
Attendance at Lumen Field was 8,146.
After an away game against the Washington Spirit next Sunday, May 28, Gotham returns to Red Bull Arena on Sunday, June 4 for a Pride Night match against San Diego Wave.
GOTHAM FC STARTING LINEUP
Abby Smith, Taylor Smith, Ellie Jean, Ali Krieger (C), Bruninha, Delanie Sheehan, Sinead Farrelly, Kristie Mewis, Nealy Martin, Lynn Williams, Jenna Nighswonger
GOTHAM FC SUBSTITUTIONS
Kristen Edmonds (Ellie Jean - 46’), Yazmeen Ryan (Taylor Smith - 66’), Ifeoma Onumonu (Delanie Sheehan - 81’), McCall Zerboni (Sinead Farrelly - 81’), Svava Rós Guðmundsdóttir (Kristie Mewis - 90’)
Besides scoring her fifth goal of the NWSL regular season (tied for first in the league), Williams turned 30 today and got engaged earlier this week; it’s safe to say she’s having a great week.
Her goal on Sunday marks the third time Williams has scored on her birthday. She also did so in 2016, while on WNY Flash, and in 2017, while playing for the North Carolina Courage.
No other NWSL player has scored on her birthday more than twice.
Switching it Up
Gotham’s starting lineup looked different today, featuring multiple players showcasing the depth and versatility of the squad. Midfielder Jenna Nighswonger started as a left back, while defender Nealy Martin, who had her first regular season start with Gotham FC today, started in the midfield. Midfielder Delanie Sheehan earned the start in the striker spot, and ended with one assist.
At the Top For the First Time in…a While
This is Gotham FC’s first time at the top of the table mid-season since July 21, 2013. Back then:
“I think that everyone has in their mind last year’s Gotham, and that’s not this year’s Gotham.” Gotham FC forward Lynn Williams
“Football is not how it starts; it’s how it finishes. Obviously for us it’s a moment of pride, but we just need to keep working. Next, we will have another difficult challenge going to Washington, so now we start preparing for that game.” Gotham FC Head Coach Juan Carlos Amorós
“In this league and in the moment, you can’t think about the past, and you’re only as great as your next game.” Gotham FC forward Lynn Williams
“I think that when I’m having joy in playing, I play my best soccer, and I think that that was happening tonight. I say this all the time: ‘With soccer, no matter how much pressure we put on ourselves and how much stress we put on ourselves, at the end of the day it’s a child’s game, it’s supposed to be played with joy and happiness.’ ” Gotham FC forward Lynn Williams
“I feel like I’m just embracing this role.” Gotham FC Midfielder/Forward Delanie Sheehan
“There were a lot of changes. We always talk about how competitive our training environment is, how much the players fight for those positions, and I think today was a clear example of that.” Gotham FC Head Coach Juan Carlos Amorós
“It’s obviously still early in the season. Coming off of last year at the bottom of the table, it’s a step in the right direction, but it’s early.” Gotham FC Midfielder/Defender Delanie Sheehan