Goal-oriented Williams leads WNY Flash into NWSL playoffs

Western New York Flash forward Lynn Williams (white jersey) won the 2016 NWSL Golden Boot award. (Photo courtesy of the Western New York Flash)

ROCHESTER, New York -- After scoring 11 goals and registering five assists during the 2016 regular season -- accounting for more than a quarter of her team’s offensive output – Western New York Flash forward Lynn Williams earned the 2016 National Women’s Soccer League’s Golden Boot award.

The 23-year-old, in her second season of professional soccer, was humbled by the recognition.

“There are so many great forwards in this league, so just to be recognized as one of them is such a huge honor, Williams told CONCACAF.com. “I feel like I’m an end product of all the hard work that my team has put in.”

Selected as the sixth overall pick in the 2015 NWSL college draft, Williams nearly tripled the goal haul of her rookie campaign, when she netted four times. The Pepperdine University product credited much of her success to the support of her teammates, family, as well as head coach Paul Riley.

“Coach Riley has done an incredible job to help me sharpen up the type of runs I make, so I really just give the credit to them and Paul for helping me sharpen up my natural abilities,” said Williams, who pointed to speed as being her biggest individual strength.

The Flash secured a berth in the NWSL playoffs, completing the regular season in fourth place with a 9W-6D-5L record. It will visit the top-seeded Portland Thorns (12-5-3) in the semifinals on Sunday.

“It’s going to be a good game,” Williams remarked. “They have let in the least amount of goals (19) and we’ve scored the most goals (40). The past two times we’ve played them, they beat us, but it’s not like we weren’t in every game. We’re just going to go out there and give it our all.”

As is the objective of any player in the United States, Williams hopes to get an opportunity to play with the current World Cup and CONCACAF champion. Crystal Dunn was the NWSL Golden Boot winner last year and has become integral part of Jill Ellis’ squad in 2016.

“Like anybody else’s dream, it’s just one day to be on the national team,” Williams said of her future objectives. “I just have to keep fighting and keep pushing and hopefully get seen one day. But until then, I can’t focus on that and I just have to focus on what’s ahead of me and that’s Portland, so that’s where my focus is going to be.”

With a youthful side – 11 of 20 players on the roster were born in 1993 or later -- the Western New York players have developed a durable bond; one that fans want to see produce a place in the NWSL final.

“It’s like a big group of sisters,” finished Williams. “Because we’re so close, we’re willing to fight for each other on the field.”

That recipe has proven to be effective and just may get the Flash over upcoming hurdles.