Ashley Hatch warms up with the USWNT
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Ashley Hatch is the NSWL's New Star and the Next Jewel in the USWNT Crown

Ashley Hatch has the potential to be a jewel on the U.S. Women's National Team. She's already tearing it up for the Washington Spirit, scoring nearly 30 times in over 80 appearances with the club since 2018.

After growing up in Gilbert, Arizona, and playing her NCAA career at Brigham Young University in Utah, Hatch has already proven she has the potential to be the face of both NWSL and the USWNT. But with such a crowded women's field, she needs to find a way to rise above the rest.

Ashley Hatch is an NWSL Superstar

Ashley Hatch Celebrates a Washington Spirit goal.

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Taken from the BYU Cougars by the North Carolina Courage in the 2017 NWSL Draft, Hatch didn't waste time getting into the swing of things. In that first season, she found the back of the net seven times and managed one assist in 24 matches, which was good enough to give the Courage the NWSL Shield and name Hatch as NWSL Rookie of the Year. And she's basically kept that pace throughout her career up to now, proven by winning the NWSL Golden Boot in 2021.

While Hatch made her USWNT debut against Switzerland in 2016, it's been extremely difficult to break into that team with any sort of regularity. The tough part of playing for U.S. Soccer is that you really need to wait your turn. With the likes of Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, and Alex Morgan firmly ahead of her in the pecking order, Hatch has essentially needed to see them retire to get her chance.

That said, the time seems to be coming for the 26-year-old forward. Four of Hatch's eight caps, as well as all of her goals, have come in substitute appearances since November of 2021. In February she found herself as a goal scorer just five minutes after entering in the second half of the USWNT 5-0 victory over New Zealand in the SheBelieves Cup. Most recently, captain Kelley O'Hara assisted a late goal in a 9-1 mashing of Uzbekistan. Sure, these are essentially just friendlies, but it goes long way in proving she has what it takes to be a mainstay in this team.

With the FIFA Women's World Cup set to take place in Australia and New Zealand in 2023, now is the perfect time for Hatch to start to heat up and claim her place. With Mallory Pugh coming into her own, and Trinity Rodman finding her way into the squad prior to her 20th birthday, the US attack looks as though it could continue to be lethal for years to come. Hatch already has history in Australia, having played on loan at Melbourne City, scoring twice in 14 matches, before finding a home in Washington.

What Will it Take for Ashley Hatch to Cement Her Place in Women's Soccer History?

The USWNT celebrates a Trinity Rodman goal.

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For starters, continuing to score at the clip she has been scoring should help. For club and country, Hatch has scored in just a hair over 42% of the matches in which she's seen the pitch. That's unheard of. If she can help lead the spirit through the regular season and into the NWSL playoffs, that will go a long way. If she can help bring an NWSL Championship to Washington, head coach Vlatko Andonovski will find it difficult to keep her off the team.

As it stands, the Spirit are putting up a fight in the Challenge Cup, and will hope that Hatch can find another game-winner or two to give them a trophy before the regular season is truly able to get underway. In order to do that though, they'll need to find their way out of Group A, and past the likes of the Chicago Red Stars, Portland Thorns, or any other teams that are able to prevail from Groups B and C.

So, while attempting to consistently be on the USWNT first team, Hatch will be looking to stake her claim as one of the best in the National Women's Soccer League.

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