Lynn Williams is focused on being herself, improving, and playing free

Since the 2016 season, there has only been one player in the top five NWSL goalscorers every season: Lynn Williams. The North Carolina Courage star is the model of consistency in front of goal in the NWSL with the second-most regular-season goals in league history. What has allowed Williams to keep that pace over multiple seasons? “That’s a great question. I think that I am never satisfied with where I’m at,” Williams told BGN. “I’m never focusing on trying to score, I’m more focused on ‘how can I improve?’ Also, I think my teammates, the more you get to know each other and the more you play with each other, and the longer you play with each other, it’s just knowing what each other likes. Knowing the kinds of runs I make, the timing of the runs, and just being able to have them put me in good positions to be able to score.”

“But I would say that’s mostly it, just having confidence that I know that I can do it, but I’m not so focused on the goals, I’m just focused on getting better.”

She may not be solely focused on the goals, but that hasn’t stopped her from putting them up big numbers. Williams has scored 57 total goals in her NWSL career, including four in 2020 (three in the Challenge Cup and one in the Fall Series thus far). Her quality in the league has allowed her another chance to feature for the USWNT recently after a couple of years out of the mix.  Williams explained, “I think that when I was first with the national team, I was so focused on performing, so focused on not messing up, that I kept messing up. I wasn’t playing freely. Now I have a new perspective on the game, and every time I go into the national team I say “I have nothing to lose” and to just be myself and play freely.”

“And for Vlatko to notice that and for him to allow me to do that, to see something special in me, I think that’s what gives me a bit of confidence. Also, I think what I bring to the team is that I am a really hard worker. My work rate behind the ball in trying to get the ball back, I think I’m a really good defensive forward, and I also think I bring an element of danger to the game because I’m so fast. I think the ability to get on the same page with girls over time will make it start to click.”

For the USWNT, she has nine goals and six assists in under 30 appearances. Not bad for the Fresno, California native. Talking about her hometown, Williams said, “You know, Fresno is, I think, a diamond in the rough. Fresno is a small place, but the Central Valley actually is a place that produces a lot of the nation’s fruits and vegetables. So you just have a lot of hard working people who are kind, and a lot of farmers. I really take pride in that.”

“I wouldn’t necessarily love to live there, it’s just so secluded. Two hours to the beach, two hours to the mountains. But I really take pride in knowing that I come from a place where people work hard and get on with it. There’s so much talent, it was so hard for me to get recruited, but I think that’s a story a lot of people have there. I would love to see people be recruited from there more.”

Her recruitment from the Fresno area led her to Pepperdine where she was a star for the women’s soccer team. Also during her time at the California school, she met her boyfriend, Marley Biyendolo, who played basketball for the Waves before beginning a professional career and playing in Australia. How helpful is that for Lynn to have your partner understanding the mindset and lifestyle of being a professional athlete? Lynn said, “I think the answer is in the question. For me, I didn’t think I’d be able to be with someone who didn’t understand the passion and the drive I have to play soccer. There eventually will be a time where I’ll hang up my boots and we’ll be together in the distance, but for now this is a dream I’ve had forever, and he understands that I’m not going to give that up for anybody, and vice versa.”

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My happy place ❤️

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“I know basketball gives him something I could never give him, and he knows soccer gives me something he could never give me. The fact that we have that understanding is what makes us work, and I’m just so blessed and lucky to have someone who is so supportive, even though our sports take us across the world from each other. Not ideal, but I definitely think we’ll look back and say it was worth it.”

Carson A Merk

Reporting live from Sin City, I have covered both RGVFC and Las Vegas Lights FC since their inceptions. I also write profiles to highlight players from the NCAA to USL to NWSL and everywhere in between.