If NJ/NY Gotham FC fans were told at the end of the 2022 season that the team would become the NWSL Champions the very next year, then what would they think? Likely, some would laugh. Others would say that it was impossible. Yet, the unexpected did happen. The Bats beat OL Reign to become the NWSL Champions.
Why was it so hard to believe Gotham could win the very next year? In 2022, they finished the season in last place. The ladies had 13 points and went 4-17-1. The inability to earn points hurt them in every way possible. They did not look like a competitive team.
2023 was a Cinderella story year for Gotham FC
Then, 2023 came along. Juan Carlos Amorós was signed as the new head coach. New players like Kelley O'Hara, Abby Smith, and Lynn Williams joined the club. The culture within had a significant shift, and before everyone knew it, Gotham FC was competing again. There were even times when the Bats were competing for first place.
However, the final seven games did not go well for Gotham FC. During that stretch, they went 1-3-3, finishing the regular season 8-7-7. The team barely made the playoffs and were struggling. Very few thought they would make it to the Championship match, let alone win a playoff game.
Of course, everyone knows how the story ended. The Bats played one of their best games of the season. Midge Purce had an MVP performance, Williams and Esther González finally got on the scoresheet again, and Mandy Haught, excluding her rookie mistake at the end of the match, was superb throughout.
The 2-1 win led the ladies to lift the trophy. That was a moment that declared Gotham FC was a Cinderella story. They went from finishing in last place in 2022 to ending the season in sixth place. They went from 13 points to 31. More importantly, they became the NWSL Champions by winning all three playoff matches.
Truthfully, that is a rare accomplishment. The fact Gotham won it all shows the resilience of the team. They were struggling at the end of the season but managed to figure everything out. Their Cinderella story highlights that teams can turn things around with the right coach, players, and culture.
NJ/NY Gotham FC's story is an inspiration. It is difficult to believe, but alas, it is the truth. The Bats are the 2023 NWSL Champions.