NWSL Championship: Takeaways as Margaret Purce sparks NJ/NY Gotham FC to title

One of the most entertaining NWSL campaigns came to a close on Saturday as NJ/NY Gotham FC completed the worst-to-first story arc, lifting the trophy in San Diego.

OL Reign v NJ/NY Gotham FC - 2023 NWSL Championship
OL Reign v NJ/NY Gotham FC - 2023 NWSL Championship / Meg Oliphant/GettyImages

From the very bottom of the mountain to the pinnacle. It's a movie-type storyline. Behind several key additions all over the pitch, investment from up top, and a new manager from Spain, NJ/NY Gotham FC accomplished the unthinkable. The team added seven players throughout the 2023 offseason in addition to three others over the summer.

The northeast outfit won just four league contests in 2022. A year later, the club won three straight as the last time in the playoffs, conceding one goal en route to hoisting the new-look NWSL silverware. Just a few years ago, players at this New York NWSL club took ice baths in garbage cans. Talk about an inspiring rise. The eventual success was built off the hard work of numerous individuals. Time to add that star. Gotham not only earned it, it gained it taking a road littered with obstacles.

Before everyone's eyes now turn to free agency and the expansion draft, we run through our takeaways from an eventual Saturday night under the lights at Snapdragon.

Takeaways from NJ/NY Gotham FC's first NWSL title triumph :

Margaret Purce, if healthy could have made an important impact to the USWNT World Cup team

Outside of all the newcomers in 2023, there were many who saw this club at the very bottom. Margaret Purce is one of them. In arguably the biggest contest of her career, the USWNT winger was not deep in her bag, she was deep in her purse. Purce was an absolute headache. In everything Gotham did going forward, No. 23 was the most influential.

She danced through three OL Reign defenders like it was a walk in the park before slotting it into the center for Lynn Williams to finish to open the scoring. It was like watching your father knife through a Thanksgiving turkey. Expect Purce wasn't cutting through a delicious entree, she was carving through a defense that hadn't given up a goal in four successive matches.

Her five successful dribbles were more than anyone on the pitch on Saturday night. We all knew heading in, the flanks were going to be vital for both sides. Purce just completely shredded the right side. The Harvard product had only competed in 12 regular season fixtures due to injury. Since the coaching staff has inserted her as the starting right wing, all she has done is impact winning. Now, whoever the new USWNT coach may be, it is going to be almost impossible to look past her. Some call her Midge, but others call her the 2023 NWSL Championship MVP.

Ali Krieger finally lifted what she rightfully deserved

When you begin your career in professional sports, you merely dream of going out like this. Ali Krieger's dream turned into a reality in southern California this past weekend. At 39 years old, the former USWNT defender finished in the top six in total regular season minutes on the New York/New Jersey outfit. In her final professional contest, the Penn State product went out completing over 84 percent of her passes, the highest mark of any of her teammates who played over 70 minutes.

She adapted her game and used her intelligence to become one of the best center backs in the league during her farewell tour. Even with the fans chanting, "One more year" toward No. 11, Krieger stayed firm in her decision. That trophy lift was one to remember. It was impossible not to smile.

The NWSL title has always eluded her. The last time Krieger was one win away from the title, she missed the critical first penalty in a shootout. Now, years later, she closes her career with a conclusion we don't often see in sports.

Lynn Williams was the exact big-time player this club needed

The USWNT forward is chasing Tom Brady. No, like actually. With the triumph on Saturday, Lynn Williams becomes the first NWSL player to lift four league titles. Not only did she win them, the California native was a massive reason why.

She is one of just two players in NWSL history to have contributed to three or more goals in a championship game. Sure, the club gave up the opportunity to pick Michelle Cooper, but this is why Williams was brought to a market like this. She doesn't just score goals, she scores CLUTCH goals.

The former North Carolina Courage star embraces the bright lights. In fact, she encourages them. New York is a city that demands a lot. In less than a year after coming to the northeast, Williams delivered. The best part about her game is the fact that she doesn't take up too much of the spotlight. Williams is the definition of a selfless player who does the work few stars are willing to do. Gotham could have traded for anyone. The front office could not have selected a better player to build a culture around following a last-place campaign.

Next season in the NWSL is going to look completely different, beginning on Dec. 15 when Bay FC and Utah Royals undergo an expansion draft.