Long and Sinc, Thorns vs. Sky Blue FC, 9.25.16
Photo by ISI-Robyn Walsh McNeil

NWSL Match Recap | Sky Blue FC 1, Portland Thorns FC 3

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Playing in the 2016 regular-season finale, Portland Thorns FC captured their first NWSL Shield, defeating Sky Blue FC 3-1 behind a brace from midfielder Allie Long, a goal by midfielder Lindsey Horan and an NWSL record 10th assist of the season by midfielder Tobin Heath at Yurcak Field on Sunday night.

With the regular season now complete, Portland will play host to the Western New York Flash in the Thorns FC 2016 Playoffs presented by Tillamook Ice Cream on Sunday, Oct. 2, at Providence Park. Set to kickoff at 2 p.m. (Pacific), the semifinal match will be broadcast live on FS1. Tickets are available for purchase online via ThornsFC.com, by phone at (888) 736-6849, or at the Providence Park box office.

With the win Sunday in their regular-season finale, Thorns FC (12-3-5, 41pts) finished the season with the best record in the regular season to earn their first-ever NWSL Shield. With the Washington Spirit’s 3-1 loss to the Chicago Red Stars on Sept. 24, Thorns FC needed a win or a draw against Sky Blue to win the NWSL Shield. Portland ended the season on a four-game winning streak and posted a 4-2-4 record on the road, which was the best away record in the NWSL this season. Additionally, Portland set a new club record for the most wins (12) and points (41) in a single campaign.

After falling behind 1-0, Thorns FC leveled the score just before halftime. From a free-kick from about 35-yards out, Heath sent her delivery into the 18-yard box that picked out Long, who headed past Sky Blue goalkeeper Caroline Casey in the 41st minute.

Thorns FC doubled their lead in the 57th minute when forward Nadia Nadim’s cross from the left flank picked out Horan, whose diving header from the top of the six-yard box was powered into the back of the net. Portland upped their lead to 3-1 in the 84th minute when second-half substitute Hayley Raso whipped in a cross from the left wing that found the feet of Long. Shielding the ball from her defender inside the six-yard box, Long turned and rifled her shot past the diving Sky Blue goalkeeper for her sixth goal of the season.

Holding a 12-6 shot advantage in the game, Portland created a number of scoring opportunities. In the ninth minute, Horan was picked out just inside the top of the box by midfielder Amandine Henry and her right-footed effort was saved by the Sky Blue goalkeeper. One minute later, Heath sent in a low cross to Horan, whose first-time shot was blocked.

Following a good sequence of build-up play in the attacking third, defender Meghan Klingenberg floated in a cross from the left wing that forward Christine Sinclair headed on frame, but her shot was saved in the 18th minute. After dribbling past her defender on the left wing, Heath fired a long-distance shot that saved by Casey in the 45th minute. Continuing on the attack in the second half, Sinclair played a through ball behind the Sky Blue defense that released Nadim into space and her shot from just inside the 18-yard box went wide of the target in the 54th minute.

Sky Blue FC (7-8-5, 26pts) benefitted from a goal early on when midfielder Kelly O’Hara’s cross from a corner kick was headed in at the near post by forward Tasha Kai in the 6th minute. Sky Blue threatened late in the 87th minute when forward Leah Galton fired a shot on goal, but her effort was cleared off the line by defender Katherine Reynolds.
  
Notes:

  • Thorns FC captured their first-ever NWSL Shield, their second major trophy after winning the NWSL Championship in 2013.
  • Portland finished the season with a 4-2-4 record on the road, the best away record in the NWSL this season.
  • With the win, Thorns FC set a new single-season record for most wins (12) and points (41) in a season.
  • Portland finished the regular season with the second most goals scored in the league (35). Additionally, Thorns FC finished the regular season with the fewest goals allowed (19).
  • Portland was the only NWSL team in 2016 to have five players with at least five goals: Nadia Nadim (9), Christine Sinclair (6), Allie Long (6), Dagny Brynjarsdottir (5), Lindsey Horan (5).
  • Midfielder Tobin Heath set a Thorns FC and new NWSL record for the most assists in a single season (10).
  • Midfielder Allie Long scored her 28th regular-season goal, which ranks third all time in the NWSL.
  • With her assist, forward Nadia Nadim finished the season with a career-high nine goals and three assists. Thorns FC are undefeated (7-0-1) when Nadim records a goal or an assist.
  • Defender Emily Menges and Nadia Nadim are the only players to start all 20 games for Portland this season.
  • Forward Christine Sinclair made her 60th start for Thorns FC, joining midfielder Allie Long (77) as the only other player to start 60 or more games for the club. 
  • Defender Emily Menges became the fourth player in team history to play in 60 career games.

Portland Thorns FC (12-3-5, 41pts) vs. Sky Blue FC (7-8-5, 26pts)
Sept. 25, 2016 – Yurcak Field (Piscataway, N.J.)

Goals by Half                            1          2          F
Sky Blue FC                              1          0          1
Portland Thorns FC                   1          2          3

Scoring Summary
SKY: Kai (O’Hara), 6
POR: Long (Heath), 41
POR: Horan (Nadim), 57
POR: Long (Raso), 84

Misconduct Summary
WNY: Grubka (Caution), 59

Lineups & Stats
POR: GK Betos, D Klingenberg (Williamson, 94+), D Menges, D Sonnett, D Reynolds, M Henry, M Long, M Horan, F Heath, F Nadim (Brynjarsdottir, 70), F Sinclair © (Raso, 83)

Substitutes Not Used: GK Franch, M Boureille

TOTAL SHOTS: 12 (Long, 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 6 (Horan, Long, 2); FOULS: 6 (Henry, Nadim, 2); OFFSIDES: 5; CORNER KICKS: 6; SAVES: 2

SKY: GK Casey, D Simon, D Rampone ©, D Grubka, D Skroski, M Kerr, M Killion, M Rodriguez (Stanton, 75), M O’Hara, F Kai (Gordon, 83), F Hayes (Galton, 67)

Substitutes Not Used: GK Stanley, D Goodson, M Decesare, M Conheeney

TOTAL SHOTS: 6 (Kerr, 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (Three players tied, 1); FOULS: 8 (O’Hara, 2); OFFSIDES: 6; CORNER KICKS: 3; SAVES: 2

Referee: Christina Unkel
Assistant Referees: Amilcar Sicaju, Ian McKay
4th Official: Rosario Candela
Attendance: 3,780
Weather: Clear, 70 degrees

All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial.

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