The Houston Dash are set to take on Angel City FC tonight and Nichelle Prince will be looking to add more goals after her player of the match performance last weekend.
The Canada international scored a hat trick, her third capping off her performance beautifully, and I think we should all take a look at her genius once more.
Instead of taking each goal in chronological order, I’ll start with the last and best of the three Prince scored against Orlando Pride. The Dash already had three goals against the visitors, with Prince scoring two and Rachel Daly adding the third with a beautiful header. The goal now was to put the game to bed and Prince made sure of that with a fabulous chip.
After some great work at Shea Groom’s signature, Prince found herself in space inside the box, albeit at a difficult angle. Most players would have taken a touch inside to try and give themselves a better shot angle, but Prince, brimming with confidence, decided to go for a bold chip with his weaker foot instead.
A perfect hat trick is usually described as scoring a goal with your left foot, right foot and head. I would say Nichelle Prince’s hat trick is as close to perfect as it gets even if he doesn’t score with his head. The audacity to decide that she will chip Canadian national team teammate Erin McLeod (who is also no slouch in goal) without even taking a touch, that’s what football is all about.
It was Nichelle Prince’s first goal of the night, one that sent the Dash on course for a big win against Pride. Rachel Daly had fallen into midfield and Prince exploited the gap she had left by running from the right into midfield, beating Orlando’s offside trap in the process.
Kerry Abello, the defender who had been following Prince’s run, actually makes a great tackle to try and stop Prince once she’s on the ball, but the deflection falls at Prince’s feet and with McLeod quickly advancing on her and with other defenders rushing towards the goal line, Prince finds the pocket of space that no one can cover and puts the ball into the back of the net,
What impressed me the most about this goal was not just the timing of the pass and the run, but the composure Prince displayed once she entered the box. She rides Abello’s tackle and doesn’t panic when the ball comes back to her. Instead, she makes sure to put enough pace and placement on the ball that despite a lunge tackle to save the goal, the defender can’t do anything but deflect the ball into the net, at the same place he was heading towards. It’s the sign of a player who is not only on top of her game, but also really locked in.
Nichelle Prince’s second goal of the game took a good bump off a defender before finding the back of the net, but that didn’t take away from the movement and finishing technique Prince used to try and score. Once again Prince timed his run perfectly and once inside the penalty area, chose the right shot choice to find the back of the net.
Now if the ball hadn’t deflected Erin McLeod might have gotten his hands on it due to the bend Prince put on it (which didn’t seem to be enough) but again shot selection was the good. One of the main issues plaguing many NWSL teams right now is the inability to score multiple goals. This comes from poor shot selection once a player is on goal. Prince doesn’t seem to have that problem so far this season, scoring four goals in six appearances. She started the season well and if she continues to maximize her scoring chances, it will help push the Dash higher up the table and possibly into the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. It’s still a long way off but right now Prince is “in the zone” so to speak and his performance against Orlando is an example of that.
Nichelle Prince is currently developing her game at a rapid pace and now she has added the ability to find the back of the net from anywhere in and around the penalty area. She’ll face a solid backline in Angel City, but if she continues with the confidence she currently has, Prince is going to give Los Angeles fits tonight.