Portland Thorns FC Academy competed in its first U.S. Soccer Development Academy Winter Showcase down in Lakewood Ranch, Fla., from Dec. 6-10. The Thorns U-19s, U-17s and U-15s each played three matches during the showcase.
The Thorns U-19s (4-3-4, 16pts) earned a pair of results at the Showcase, with draws against Charlotte Soccer Academy and Washington Spirit Academy-Baltimore Armour.
Goals from forwards Carlie Bateman, Brooklyn James and Phoebe Bunn helped the Thorns U-19s to a 3-3 draw with Charlotte Soccer Academy on Dec. 7. Bateman and James scored just two minutes a part in the 13th and 15th minutes, respectively, to help Portland to a 2-1 lead. Following Bunn’s goal in the 44th minute, Charlotte responded with two goals earn a share of the points.
Thorns U-19s earned their fourth shutout of the season in a scoreless draw against Washington Spirit Academy-Baltimore Armour on Dec. 10. Goalkeepers Hallie Byzewski and Hailey Coll split time in goal, each playing a half, to team up for the clean sheet.
The team lost to the Boston Breakers Academy in its second match of the showcase on Dec. 9.
The Thorns U-17s were dealt two narrow losses, but capped their run at the Winter Showcase with a 4-2 win against Sky Blue NYSC. The team’s top three leading scorers combined for seven goals during the three matches of the competition.
It was a back-and-forth contest against North Carolina Courage Academy to open their Showcase slate on Dec. 7. Ava Benedetti and Paige Alexander each pulled Portland level with their goals in the 39th and 60th minutes, respectively. But with the match tied 2-2, North Carolina found the game-winner in the 73rd minute to earn a 3-2 victory.
In one of the featured matches of the Showcase, Thorns U-17s squared off with the Boston Breakers Academy on Dec. 8. After going down a goal early, Portland forward Jacqueline Blakeley tied the match at 1-1 in the eighth minute. But it was a second goal by Breakers Academy’s Mia Otero in the 76th that earned Boston the 2-1 win.
Check out this double save by goalkeeper Kora McCullough against the Breakers.
A brace by Alexander helped guide the U-17s to their win against Sky Blue-NYSC on Dec. 10. Alexander opened the scoring in the 19th minute and the Thorns U-17s held a 2-0 lead at halftime after Blakeley’s 31st-minute tally. In the second half, Alexander and Benedetti each scored just a minute a part at the 65th-minute mark to seal the victory.
Alexander now has 10 goals on the season to lead the team, while Blakeley now has seven and Benedetti has six goals. The team is 5-4-2 (17pts) on the season and sits in fifth place in the Northwest Division.
The Thorns U-15s (3-8-0, 9pts) opened the Winter Showcase with a 4-2 win against the Washington Spirit Academy-Baltimore Armour on Dec. 6. Sophia Goodell scored twice early in the 15th and 17th minutes. Lyla Shukur and Malea Cesar each scored in the second half.
Forward Gabriella Warta scored a goal in each of the two remaining Showcase matches, losses to Colorado Rush on Dec. 8 and Boston Breakers Academy on Dec. 9 .
All Thorns Academy teams now have an extended break in play, and will resume their U.S. Soccer Development Academy schedules in late February.