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The Unlikely Hero: Storylines from Preseason Victory in the Women's Cup


Gary Gibson

02/28/2024



An Unlikely Hero Saves Gotham FC, Reaches Women's Cup Final

Gotham FC kicks off their preseason with a win!


In a match that looked destined for penalties, 13 year old wunderkind and non roster invitee Mckenna Whitham found a loose ball inside the 6 in extra time to see Gotham through into the finals of the Women’s Cup preseason tournament. 


Gotham had just subbed in veteran keeper Michelle Betos to prepare for the eventual shootout just before Gotham struck the winner. Gotham struggled to get balls on frame during the match despite creating a decent amount of chances. Gotham once again needed a hero and they got one.


Gotham lacked sharpness in the final third and it was only fitting that great individual effort from a crashing Delanie Sheehan caused just enough chaos to free the ball up for the youngster to hit home. Sometimes if you can't win pretty, win ugly.


This was a very physical match where the world cup winner Esther was visibly frustrated with the intensity of the fouls she was receiving. Ultimately a spirited competition that should help the club ramp up and get ready for the start of the physical NWSL season start.


Defense Holds Firm Despite Rotation

Gotham FC's defense remained solid despite fielding a lineup with rotated players.


Maitane Lopez picked up where she left off from last season with a solid performance. In the absence of Ali Krieger Gotham FC will look to Maitane to provide on field leadership in a more expanded role. Lopez looked solid and ready to go for the season. Putting out fires from the high line. Taking the space in front of her, dribbling into the midfield, and playing line breaking passes.  


Maycee Bell looks like a steal at pick #14. Maycee has all the tools to be really special at the next level. Size, speed, dribbling ability, and timely interventions. She mirrored Maitane in getting into midfield space and finding smart outlet passes. Obviously a presence at 5 '10 and was winning every contested header. Last season while the national teamers were away Martin, Sheehan, and Ryan solidified their starting spots in the lineup. It is very possible Maycee finds a similar path to the starting 11 or at least challenges Davidson when she returns.

 

Bruninha was the best player on the pitch. Bruninha has always been a talent. But the game moved a bit fast for her in her first couple of matches and there was definitely a slight lack of confidence in getting forward in fear of not being able to track back. That fear is gone. She trusts herself, teammates, and her role in the system. Bruninha was absolutely flying up the wings and showcasing the trademark Brazilian flair in finding creative passes to free up teammates. Last season was a settling in and coming out party for the young player. This season the Brazil national team will regret not bringing her to tournaments as she ascends to another level.


Young and Returning Players Impress in Preseason Opportunity

Young players and returning players made a positive impression during the game.


Successful return of Taryn Torres. The rumors were true. Last season it was said that before rookie of the year, Jenna Nighswonger was moved to left back it was Taryn Torres the former box to box midfielder was slotted there before tearing her ACL. With Jenna slated to be with the National team a lot this season Taryn will have time to grow as an outside back. Taryn earned praise from head coach Amoros post match. "She has been outstanding as she integrated in after a year out and he's proud of her"


What a moment for McKenna Whitham! Getting the game winning goal in your professional debut and to celebrate that in the moment with world cup winner Esther Gonzalez. The youngster took a very hard shoulder challenge shortly after entering and then got right back in and gave some back Those little moments are going to be consequential for her development as she gets used to the physicality and speed of the pro game. Already playing way above her age with the U-18s, her first pro contract may not be that far off. 


Gotham has a full roster but brought many players to fill in and show off in this tournament. The USL Super league is around the corner and Gotham will need many National Team Replacement platers soon enough. This will be a good showcase for those players to audition for future spots on this roster or another. 


Gotham returns Friday to the Women's Cup finals against Racing Louisville at 8:30 on Bein Extra which can be found: https://pluto.tv/en/live-tv/5df975e2b27cf5000921c102

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