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USWNT’s Lynn Williams breaks NWSL all-time goal-scoring record with 79th league goal in NJ/NY Gotham FC match

HARRISON, N.J. — NJ/NY Gotham FC’s Lynn Williams broke the NWSL’s all-time goal-scoring record on Sunday, scoring her 79th career goal in her team’s 2-1 win over the Chicago Red Stars.

Williams scored her history-making goal in the 57th minute off a header from close range following a pass from Esther Gonzalez, which was the game’s opening goal. It was her third goal of the season  in seven games, leading her team in that category so far in 2024. The U.S. women’s national team forward surpassed the record set by Sam Kerr, who played in the league from 2013 to 2019. Williams equaled Kerr’s previous total earlier this month in Gotham’s 1-0 win at the Houston Dash.

“In a moment like that when the goal was so open, I just said to myself: ‘Focus on your form and don’t let your eyes get too big,’ ’cause I felt like those are the goals that are easiest to miss,” Williams said about the accomplishment post-match. “I obviously missed another sitter and it’s just because your eyes get too big. I missed my moment. In that moment, I just said, ‘Lynn, just focus. Put the ball in the goal,’ and when that finally happened, I was just so ecstatic. I was excited that me and Esther connected for a goal and excited to be in that area with our fans and with my fiancé in the stands.”

The appreciation for Gonzalez’s assist and the atmosphere around her echoes Williams’ overall feeling about becoming the league’s all-time top goalscorer. She began her post-match remarks with thanks for the community around her and continued to heap praise on them whenever she could.

“At the end of the day, I think I just owe it all to the people that are around me — all my teammates, all my family members,” the forward said. “Everybody who’s allowed me and pushed me forward when things got hard. Sometimes we see all the glory and all the big moments but there’s a lot of tears behind the scenes and so I’m just going to hopefully enjoy this moment.”

Williams has been a prolific goalscorer since joining the Western New York Flash — now the North Carolina Courage after an ownership change and relocation — as a rookie in 2015. She made a name for herself in North Carolina, where she scored 42 goals in 81 league games, but continued her impressive goalscoring run upon joining Gotham ahead of the 2023 NWSL season. She has 11 goals in 30 games for the New Jersey-based club so far.

Though she did play for the USWNT’s U23 team, Williams used the NWSL to truly boost her profile and become a regular on the national team. The 30-year-old was on the bubble for much of her early career but was a part of the team that won a bronze medal at the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Olympics and cracked the USWNT’s roster for the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

She very much remains in the picture ahead of July’s Olympics in Paris, which will mark the first major tournament for the USWNT after Emma Hayes takes over next month. Williams was part of the squad rebuild led by interim head coach Twila Kilgore and competed at the 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup, scoring one goal in four games.

“I think that I have exceeded a lot of people’s expectations,” she said about the trajectory of her career thus far. “I think that, for a very long time, I have believed in myself. In a lot of moments along the way, I’ve been told, ‘No, you’re not good enough,’ and I think that every single time I score a goal or every single time I’m on the field, it’s another moment for me to continue to believe in myself and I think that is what I take moving forward … It doesn’t matter what everybody else thinks. Soccer is subjective at the end of the day. What matters is how you feel about yourself and just surrounding yourself who push and believe in you and know your dreams.”

Gotham head coach Juan Carlos Amoros was of a similar mindset after the win. Gotham signed Williams after she missed the entirety of the 2022 season with injury, but she hit the ground running and has become an all important part of the team.

“I think she has exceeded our expectations,” he said. “You know what she can do on the pitch but then you don’t know certain things until you work with people … Coming in last year, it was obviously a little bit of a gamble because at the end of the day, after not playing for a year, you never know — muscle injuries, how was she going to react, and I think from the first official game that she played [at] Angel City, she’s been carrying this team with her teammates.”

Despite the celebratory feeling, Williams was quick to focus on the future.

“Hopefully that’s not my last goal so I’m not done yet,” she quipped. “It’s just a moment in my career that I get to reflect and then we just keep moving forward.”

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