The NWSL isn’t a stranger to fantastic goals. Almost every week, a player is putting up a ‘goal of the season’ type of shot but this goal that Savannah DeMelo scored against KC Current may be my favourite goal of the season; just because of the sheer cheek to try something like that.
Emotions were still high in Louisville after Uchenna Kanu’s first goal for the team had been ruled out due to the offside flag but the hosts were immediately gifted a chance to draw level again. That’s when Savannah DeMelo decided to do this:
@Savannah_DeMelo @RacingLouFC is back level in minutes! pic.twitter.com/l3EXM01kEm— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) May 18, 2023
This shouldn’t be a shot that a player decided to take right after winning the ball back so quickly, especially considering that everyone in Racing’s colours were trying to quickly move on from the disallowed goal.
It all starts from a poor pass out by AD Franch right into the feet of Jordan Baggett but the minute the turnover happens, DeMelo is calling for the ball, knowing that she’s in acres of space and could probably take a shot before any defenders close her down. Full credit to both DeMelo and the Louisville coaching staff for having put together a resting defensive plan that had Savannah DeMelo and her teammates in position to capitalise should a turnover happen in this position.
From here on out however, this is Savannah DeMelo in prime form. She has the awareness of how much time and space she has to not only take a touch and settle herself, but she also knows that the goalkeeper is still trying to set themselves correctly due to losing the ball in transition and if she puts her shot either side of Franch, she has a high chance of scoring.
What makes this goal so impressive is that DeMelo chooses to take a touch and balance herself before going with the outside of her right foot. Instead of trying to just shoot at the first opportunity, it’s almost as if she thinks to herself “how do I make this goal look even more beautiful?” The choice to shoot this way shows a nonchalance that usually comes when a player has full faith in their ability and what kind of form they’re in. Savannah DeMelo is humming along nicely in Racing’s midfield and this goal shows just how in tune she is with everything around her.
Finally, we examine how the ball curls out and then in, making it even harder for Franch to save the goal. The goalkeeper is caught flat-footed due to the bend on the ball and even if she tries to stretch out for the ball, the curl out and in makes it difficult for even the very best to save that kind of shot. Once again, it’s a moment of quick thinking and highly acute awareness of what’s around them that makes Savannah DeMelo score something this ridiculous in that moment in the game.
Any other player, someone with less composure, would’ve just gone for goal instead but DeMelo took a touch and decided to bend the ball in with the outside of her right foot.
The guts. The audacity. The level of ingenuity. Whatever you want to call it. Savannah DeMelo has IT.
If this goal isn’t enough to convince you, look up any other goal she’s scored since she first got minutes in this league. DeMelo is no stranger to scoring brilliant goals but this one was her taking her striking ability and quick-thinking to another level.
Look. I’m not a manager or head coach but what I do know is that if a player has traits that transcend even when her team is struggling, that player should be in the national team conversation. Savannah DeMelo didn’t just start playing well this year, she’s been a bright spot for Louisville since they first drafted her.
It may be too late for her to be heading to Australia and New Zealand this summer but if it were up to me, she’d be on that plane. A player who’s confident enough and talented enough to do this could be a difference-maker at a tournament as compact and as highly contested as the World Cup.