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By: Kerin Maguire
Photo Credit: Tony Quinn / ISI Photos
Crystal Dunn is an impact player. No matter the team, Dunn’s infectious energy and dynamic runs lift whatever side she happens to be playing for. From youth national teams, to college, to the senior national team, and currently for the Washington Spirit, Dunn proves on a daily basis that she is one of the most dangerous attacking players in the world.
At the University of North Carolina, Crystal Dunn helped her team win the NCAA Women’s soccer championship. In her final year, her accomplishments earned her the coveted MAC Hermann Trophy for the best female player in college soccer.
In the 2014 NWSL college draft, the Washington Spirit selected her with the first overall pick. Due to a lack of depth at left back, Dunn was slotted into the back line, making goal scoring a tough task. However her speed and intensity helped anchor the defense and provide service to the attack from the flank.
In her second season with the team, Dunn finally moved to the top of the attack as a forward and scored a league high 15 goals, earning the 2015 NWSL Golden Boot, as well as NWSL and team MVP in the process. Along the way, she was named NWSL player of the week six times, finishing the season a NWSL Best XI selection.
Nearly half way into the 2016 NWSL season, Dunn’s impact on the field has taken a different path yet again, but is just as important than ever. Although she has yet to score, she is advancing the Spirit offensive attack in the assist column while making a lot more room to operate for attacking teammates by drawing so much attention from opposing defenses. With four assists, Dunn has contributed to over a third of the goals scored by the Spirit so far this season and embraces her current role in the offensive attack.
Photo Credit: Robyn McNeil / ISI Photos
“I’m very proud of my team,” Dunn told WashingtonSpirit.com recently. “We’ve played really well up to this point and we’re going to build on it and keep playing hard. We just play so hard for each other. All throughout preseason I knew this was a tough bunch of girls.”
Many changes came to the Spirit’s offensive line this season, however, the team proves that this will not be an obstacle in their attack. The roster consists of three new forwards, with the acquisition of Katie Stengel from Bayern Munich, as well as draft signees Cheyna Williams (Florida State) and Cali Farquharson (Arizona State).
“[Cheyna and Cali] are young, they’re rookies, they come to training every day just playing their hardest. I think it is an honor to play with them,” Dunn said of her new teammates.
These four are far from the only attacking threat troubling opponents this season, with veterans Francisca Ordega, Estefania Banini, Diana Matheson, and Joanna Lohman combining for eight goals so far, equaling or bettering the total team production of half the teams in the league.
While the Spirit expect to be without Matheson and Dunn during July and part of August for the Olympics, the remaining attacking threats of First Ladies of Professional Soccer will certainly keep opposing coaches up late planning their defensive plans.
Before those Olympics however, the Spirit have one more home game with their full roster this Saturday.
Tickets to see Crystal and the rest of the Spirit against Sky Blue FC this Saturday, June 25th at 7pm at the Maryland SoccerPlex can be purchased here.