NWSL PLAYOFFS MATCH RECAP | Portland Thorns FC 2, Seattle Reign FC 1

PORTLAND, Ore. – Scoring a goal in each half, Portland Thorns FC recorded their third straight win at home, extending their unbeaten run to six games overall, and advanced to their third NWSL Championship with a 2-1 win against Seattle Reign FC before 14,179 fans at Providence Park on Saturday afternoon in their semifinal playoff presented by Tillamook Yogurt. Portland erased a first-half deficit by receiving goals from Tobin Heath and Lindsey Horan, becoming the first team in NWSL history to make three championship finals.

2018 NWSL Championship
Portland will host the 2018 NWSL Championship, which will take place on Saturday, Sept. 22, at Providence Park, at 1:30 p.m. (Pacific) on Lifetime. Tickets are on sale now and are available for purchase by calling (888) 736-6849 or online.

Thorns FC will square off against the winner of the second semifinal between the North Carolina Courage and Chicago Red Stars, which is set for Tuesday, Sept. 18, at 6 p.m. (Pacific) at Providence Park on ESPNews. Tickets for the NWSL Semifinal match in Portland are $10 general admission and are on sale by calling (888) 736-6849 or online at https://nwsl.us/2Ogbz3Z

Championship appearances
With the win, Thorns FC are the first team in league history to qualify for three NWSL Championship games in the six seasons. Portland won the inaugural NWSL Championship in 2013, defeating the Western New York Flash, 2-0. Thorns FC earned their second championship in 2017 with a 1-0 win over the North Carolina Courage. 

Team form
With the victory, Thorns FC extended their unbeaten run to six games overall (5-0-1) dating back to Aug. 11. Notably, Portland is unbeaten in its last seven home games (5-0-2) dating back to June 27.

Heath form
Including the regular season, Heath has recorded a goal in five straight matches, the longest streak for consecutive games with a goal in club history. She has also tallied a point in seven consecutive matches (5g, 3a). Additionally, Heath has a goal in each of her last four matches at Providence Park

Playoff stats
Heath and Horan each tallied their third career NWSL playoff goals in the match. Horan has tallied a goal or an assist in three consecutive playoff matches. Heath and Horan are tied with Christine Sinclair for the most playoff goals in club history. Notably, Horan and Heath are among six players in league history to have scored three or more goals in the NWSL playoffs.

Key plays
Starting the match on the front foot, Horan found Sinclair in space on the edge of the 18-yard box, but her shot was saved by Seattle goalkeeper Lydia Williams in the eighth minute. Nine minutes later, a flick-on from Midge Purce found Heath in the box, but her shot from the center of goal was blocked a Seattle defender.

Thorns FC nearly scored in the 17th minute when Ellie Carpenter’s long throw was flicked on by Horan into the six-yard box to Caitlin Foord, whose shot from point-blank-range was kicked aside by Williams. The ensuing rebound fell to the feet of Purce, but her follow-up shot was saved by Williams lunging to her left. After Heath chested down the rebound inside the penalty area, her blocked shot was tipped off the crossbar by Williams.

Seattle took a 1-0 lead in the 29th minute when Meghan Rapinoe’s free-kick attempt near the endline hit the crossbar, with the rebound falling to Jasmyne Spencer, whose follow-up shot from the edge of the six-yard box finding the back of the net. 

Looking to answer back, Meghan Klingenberg’s service from the left wing found Horan inside the box, but her glancing header missed past the post in the 34th minute.

Thorns FC tied the match just before halftime after Foord muscled off two Seattle defenders, before laying the ball into the path of Horan charging towards goal. Horan slid in Heath down the left edge of the penalty area, and her left-footed shot was slotted past the outstretched legs of Williams to make it a 1-1 score line in the 43rd minute.

To start the second half, Heath’s free-kick service from the left wing found Emily Sonnett, but her header missed the frame in the 49th minute.

Portland took a 2-1 advantage in the 77th minute when Sinclair’s clipped service from outside the box picked out Horan charging towards goal. Rising first, Horan’s leaping header deflected off the left post before bouncing off the right post and crossing the goal line.

In the 83rd minute, a headed clearance fell to Heath on the edge of the 18-yard box, but her left-footed volley was fired over the crossbar.

Goalkeeper Adrianna Franch finished the match with game-high four saves, making several key stops. Franch made a leaping, one-armed save to deny Jodie Taylor’s strike from distance in the 33rd minute, before stretching out to parry Taylor’s swiveling shot at the far post in the 37th minute. One minute later, Franch ranged to her left to make a diving, kick save on Rapinoe’s shot from point-blank-range. 

Portland Thorns FC vs. Seattle Reign FC – NWSL Semifinal
Sept. 15, 2018 – Providence Park (Portland, Ore.)

Goals by Half                1          2          F
Thorns FC                     1          1          2
Seattle Reign FC           1          0          1          

Scoring Summary: 
SEA: Spencer, 39
POR: Heath (Horan), 43
POR: Horan (Sinclair), 77

Misconduct Summary:
POR: Sonnett (Caution), 27
SEA: Fishlock (Caution), 40
POR: Menges (Caution), 50
SEA: Rapinoe (Caution), 54
SEA: Long (Caution), 60

Lineups:
POR: GK Franch, D Carpenter, D Sonnett (Ball, 90+1), D Menges, D Klingenberg, M Boureille, M Horan, M Sinclair ©, F Purce (Crnogorcevic, 46), F Foord, F Heath

Substitutes Not Used: GK Eckerstrom , M Andressinha, F Weber, F Onumonu, F Lussi

TOTAL SHOTS: 12 (Heath, 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Five players tied, 1); FOULS: 16 (Horan, 4), OFFSIDES: 2; CORNER KICKS: 6; SAVES: 4

SEA: GK Williams, D Nielsen, D Oyster, D Barnes, D Catley, M Utsugi (Andrews, 82), M Fishlock (Addo, 84), M Long, F Rapinoe ©, F Taylor, F Spencer (Yanez, 78)

Substitutes Not Used: GK Betos, D Westphal, M Yanez, F Kawasumi, F Leon

TOTAL SHOTS: 17 (Rapinoe, 8); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Taylor, 2); FOULS: 19 (Long, 4); OFFSIDES: 2; CORNER KICKS: 10; SAVES: 3

Referee: Ramy Touchan
Assistant Referees: Chris Elliott, Deleana Quan
4th Official: Danielle Chesky
Attendance: 14,179
Weather: Partly cloudy, 65 degrees

All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial

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