PORTLAND, Ore. – Portland Thorns FC scored three unanswered goals in a 3-1 win over Seattle Reign FC in front of a sell-out crowd of 21,144 fans at Providence Park on Friday night to secure a home playoff match for a third consecutive season. Lindsey Horan tallied a brace, while Tobin Heath scored for a fourth straight match to help secure the victory in the regular-season finale. Portland, the No. 2 seed heading into the postseason, will open the 2018 NWSL Playoffs against Seattle on Saturday, Sept. 15, at Providence Park on Lifetime at 12 noon (Pacific).
Thorns FC (12-6-6, 42pts) will square off against Reign FC on Saturday, Sept. 15, in the semifinals of the playoffs, presented by Tillamook Yogurt. Tickets are currently available for purchase for the Sept. 15 playoff match online at www.thornsfc.com, by phone at (888) 736-6849 or at the Providence Park box office, which will be open beginning on Monday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Pacific). The winner of the playoff game will advance to the 2018 NWSL Championship at Providence Park on Saturday, Sept. 22, at 1:30 p.m. (Pacific). Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at www.nwslchampionship.com.
Horan tallied a goal in each half, recording her second brace of the season and the third of her career with Portland. She ranks tied for second in the NWSL with 13 goals this season. Her 13 goals rank as the most in a single season in club history. In addition, Horan’s 28 points established a new Thorns FC single-season record.
Surging down the stretch
With the win, Portland is unbeaten in its last five matches overall (4-0-1). Thorns FC have scored two or more goals in four of their last five matches, outscoring opponents, 10-4. Individually, Heath has four goals and two assists in that span. At home, Portland is unbeaten in its last six games (4-0-2), outscoring its opponents, 15-5.
Seattle grabbed an early 1-0 lead in the fourth minute of the match against the run of play. Jessica Fishlock unleashed a long-range effort from the edge of the box, finishing her shot into the upper left corner of the goal.
Portland nearly leveled the game in the 24th minute. Ellie Carpenter surged down field and fired a shot from the right edge of the box that was headed for the top left corner but bounced off the crossbar.
Thorns FC tied the match in the 30th minute. Midge Purce received a pass on the right wing, dribbled end line and served a low, hard cross to Christine Sinclair near the penalty spot. Sinclair was unable to get a shot off, but the ball took a deflection and landed for Horan, who sent a powerful shot into the top right corner of the goal.
Heath scored for a fourth consecutive match, tallying her seventh goal of the season, in the 49th minute to give Portland a 2-1 lead. Heath intercepted a pass just outside the Reign FC box and dribbled to the edge of the box before unleashing a perfect strike into the top corner of the goal.
Remaining on the front foot, Thorns FC created a scoring opportunity on a set piece in the 77th minute. Heath delivered a curling ball into the box and Caitlin Foord pounced on the bouncing ball, sending a shot toward the right corner of the goal, but Seattle goalkeeper Lydia Williams made the save.
Foord nearly added a third goal to Portland’s total in the 81st minute. With Purce leading the break, Foord made a run down the right side of the box and Purce played a well-weighted pass into space for Foord. She fired a shot from inside the box, but Williams jumped up to push the ball over the crossbar and out for a corner kick.
On the ensuing Thorns FC corner kick, Heath delivered a pinpoint ball into the box for Horan, who flicked a header just inside the left post to record her second brace of the season, tallying her 13th goal of the season.
Portland Thorns FC (12-6-6, 42pts) vs. Seattle Reign FC (11-5-8, 41pts)
Sept. 7, 2018 – Providence Park (Portland, Ore.)
Goals by Half 1 2 F
Seattle Reign FC 1 0 0
Portland Thorns FC 1 2 3
SEA: Fishlock (Addo), 4
POR: Horan, 30
POR: Heath, 49
POR: Horan (Heath), 82
POR: Sonnett (caution), 60
SEA: Addo (caution), 62
SEA: Catley (caution), 87
POR: GK Franch, D Carpenter, D Sonnett, D Menges, D Klingenberg, M Boureille, M Horan, M Sinclair ©, F Purce (Ball, 90+1), F Foord (Lussi, 86), F Heath (Andressinha, 90+3)
Substitutes Not Used: GK Eckerstrom, F Crnogorcevic, F Weber, F Onumonu
TOTAL SHOTS: 14 (Foord, 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Foord, Horan, 2); FOULS: 11 (Heath, 3), OFFSIDES: 1; CORNER KICKS: 4; SAVES: 1
SEA: GK Williams, D Westphal (Nielsen, 69), D Oyster, D Barnes, D Catley, M Utsugi (Yanez, 75), M Fishlock ©, M Andrews, F Addo (Johnson, 87), F Taylor, F Spencer
Substitutes Not Used: GK Betos, D Kleiner, D McNabb, F Kawasumi
TOTAL SHOTS: 6 (Fishlock, 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 2 (Fishlock, Taylor, 1); FOULS: 14 (Addo, 4); OFFSIDES: 4; CORNER KICKS: 2; SAVES: 3
Referee: Tim Ford
Assistant Referees: Benjamin Wooten, Walter Heatherly
4th Official: Chad Stewart
Weather: Cloudy, 72 degrees
All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial