Quotes & Notes | NWSL Playoffs | Portland Thorns FC 2, Seattle Reign FC 1 | Sept. 15, 2018

Portland Thorns FC Quotes

Portland Thorns FC head coach Mark Parsons

General thoughts on the match…
“Seattle came in and looked aggressive. For us, the biggest difference was that we weren’t getting the pressure and weren’t competing. Even though we ended up competing and being physical with them, we still ended up getting kicked a lot. It’s tough in this league, you have to [be physical]. You have to be prepared to work hard, be physical, compete and just hang in there. The first half was tough, the AD [Adrianna] Franch show kept us in [the game]; to get that goal before halftime was huge. We needed to compete and we needed to claw back into this game because no one is going to give it to us. We were better in the second half and created so much momentum. No matter what’s thrown at us, we keep coming back. That’s where the adversity throughout this season, especially the first half, is paying dividends - and today it certainly did.”

On making his second-straight NWSL finals appearance with the Thorns…
“To be in the championship game of the most competitive league for one year is incredible…two years in a row is outstanding. The fact that it’s at home, I don’t know if we’re going to sleep for the next week in anticipation for this and hopefully we’re not sleeping after it. Well done to what this group of players and staff continue to do to put this team in this position.”

On Ellie Carpenter’s performance…
“[Her performance] was mind-boggling. This is an 18 year old. She did a great job defensively in the first half. Megan Rapinoe is at the top of her game, she’s one of the best in the world and I love seeing what she does for the national team – for Ellie to keep her out of the game [was great]. In the second half, especially when we were chasing the game and the space opened up, she did an amazing job. She’s grown and grown and grown. She drove on, got into better spaces and gave us some looks on the attacking side.”

On Adrianna Franch’s first-half performance…
“There’s no one in the world that can do what she did in the first 45 minutes. She continues to grow. I don’t think the ceiling is anywhere close. She’s going to be in control of what she becomes here, she’s at a really high level for us. You can’t say that about loads of players. Working in this environment with our staff seems to be a great fit. I’m just proud of the growth she continues to make and what she does in big games and big moments, she produces her best work. On the biggest stage can you do it? Franch keeps doing it.”

On the decision to bring on Ana Crnogorcevic for Midge Purce at halftime…
“We knew Ana would have to come in at some point, we just didn’t know who for. Especially the way that the first half went, we didn’t take advantage of what Midge offers us. It was probably a game where we needed a different type of player like Ana. The fact that we were so disappointed with the first half, I thought we were going to come out charging and we’d get more possession and momentum – there might not be the space that Midge exploited last week. We needed to get Ana on the pitch. She gives us the fire and leadership as well as the quality.”

On what he’s most proud of this season…
“When you go through tough days like today, our mentality and commitment to the team and each other is really strong. I’m proud that we’ve stuck to what we believe despite some adversity or disappointing results. We looked [at the initial score line] and said that we’ve still got a chance because this group is committed to each other and to the club. We’ve seen that evolve as the quality has improved and as everyone has gotten fitter and healthy. Nothing was going to stop us today. I feel that because of the way the players attacked everything the way they did.”

Portland Thorns FC midfielder Tobin Heath
On playing next week's NWSL final in Portland…
“It feels incredible. We’ve worked really hard all season in order for this to be possible. It’s exciting and a great opportunity for us. It showed in this game how much the fans meant to us, especially when we went down a goal; we needed them in order to get back in the game. You work really hard to earn that semifinal at home and that’s why you have [the game] at home. Being able to play the championship is a great feeling, it’s always fun to be able to play in the last game.”

On Adrianna Franch’s performance…
“She’s incredible. The kind of saves that she makes in big-time moments [are great]. She’s a gamer, it’s really cool to have someone like that on your team. I can’t say enough good things about her and what she means to this team. She’s grown immensely as a person and a player. She continues to wow and amaze us and I think she enjoys it.”

On her goal to tie the contest in the opening half…
“Lindsey is brilliant on the ball and is a great decision maker. I was just hoping that she would play the ball and she played me the perfect ball and I was able to finish it.”

On Allie Long and Megan Rapinoe’s return to Seattle’s starting lineup…
“To be honest, I think it was actually kind of nice because it’s really hard playing the same team back-to-back; it’s almost like we played two different teams. It was kind of nice because after [last week], we were kind of able to switch into playoff mode and switch into focusing on this new team that we were going to face. They’re obviously quality players and a quality team so it was going to be a much more difficult task, which was why it was so important for us to win that last game of the season in order to host. Us on our field gives us a huge advantage and us in a playoff semifinal is a different us as well.”

Portland Thorns FC midfielder Lindsey Horan
Thoughts on the game...
“I’m very happy, our first half was kind of low and obviously going down that first goal again, was really unfortunate. We weren’t necessarily playing our game and we kind of knew that coming out that this was going to be a rivalry game, that it was going to be very physical. There’s going to be some soccer played, but you know it’s going to be a little chippy at times and a lot of counter-attacks. That’s kind of what the first half was and I don’t think we were bringing the Portland mentality into the game and at the end that goal kind of brought it out of us. There were so many good things that happened in the build up to that goal. I thought that brought us into halftime where we could come together and re-group. In the second half I thought we brought the momentum and did everything we possibly could.”

On the first goal...
“Firstly, Caitlin [Foord] did a great job of holding that ball up and waiting. I think not a lot of people think about that or see it, but it’s a very hard thing to do when their center back was on her all game. She did so well and laid it off to me in a perfect space where I could just run at the defender. So one, credit to Caitlin she did amazing. Then my focus was to find Tobin [Heath] and she made such an amazing run and once the ball found her I knew it was going to be in the back of the net.”

On the final being played at Providence Park...
“Absolutely incredible. I think us bringing out such a different momentum in the second half was huge, but also being here and looking at the fans, there was times where I looked up and said I wanted to do it for these people that come out and watch us day in and day out and support us. It’s such a special thing to be a part of and I’m so grateful that I’m here in Portland, so being able to play a championship game, we should be thankful that we get that opportunity and privilege as well.”

Portland Thorns FC goalkeeper Adrianna Franch
On her first-half performance…
“For a goalkeeper, you want to try and be a wall and keep the ball out of the back of the net and be there for your team. It was enough for the first half. The team stepped up and took care of the second [half] and that’s what you ask for, a team performance across the board.”

On the difference between the first and second half…
“We got at them [in the second half]. We started pressing a little bit more like we normally do and didn’t allow them to send balls from deep. We just had to read the game a little bit.”

On Seattle’s first-half goal…
“Megan Rapinoe always tries to score and whip [dangerous] balls in and that’s normal. That’s why I was able to get a little bit of a tip. Whether that made a difference or not, they still got the goal.”

On playing the NWSL championship in Portland…
“I think it’s amazing for [the final] to be able to be in a soccer city - the fans are in it no matter what. They’ll be supporting and be loud and proud and it’s amazing to be a part of a club who’s excited to give it back to the fans. [Winning a championship] has been the goal since day one. Our goal is to get that third star and whenever we have the opportunity to be in front of the fans, it’s what we want. I don’t know who’s more excited, the fans or us. It’s going to be a good game next week.”

On her personal growth since arriving in Portland…
“That’s what you want as a professional - to be able to grow every single year. When you’re with a staff and a coach like Nadine who buys into you and is excited to work with you and continue your growth, that just gets you excited and makes you want to get better every single day and have a good mindset with it.”

Notes:

  • Celeste Boureille, Midge Purce, Caitlin Foord, Ana Crnogorcevic and Ellie Carpenter made their first NWSL playoff appearances in the match.
  • Foord, Purce and Boureille all started their first career NWSL playoff matches.
  • Tobin Heath and Lindsey Horan scored their third career playoff goals for Portland in the match, which is tied for the most in team history with Christine Sinclair.
  • Heath and Horan are two of six players who have scored at least three career playoff goals in the NWSL.
  • Horan recorded her second career playoff assist. She has record a goal or an assist in four consecutive playoff games.
  • Horan ranks tied for second all-time in NWSL playoff assists. She is one of five players in league history with multiple assists in the postseason.
  • Sinclair and Heath appeared in their seventh consecutive NWSL playoff match for Portland and are the only two players to feature in every playoff game for Thorns FC since 2013.
  • Heath has scored in five consecutive matches, recording a point in seven consecutive matches (5g, 3a).
  • Saturday marked Portland’s fifth appearance in the NWSL playoffs in six seasons – the most appearances in the playoffs of any team in history of the NWSL.
  • Thorns FC and Reign FC squared off for the first time in NWSL playoffs. Portland has now faced off against four different teams in the semifinals (FC Kansas City, Western New York Flash, Orlando Pride) in five appearances.
  • Portland has tallied 15 goals in the NWSL playoffs, which is the most of any team.
  • Sinclair tallied her first career playoff assist in the match. She is the 12th different player to record an assist for Thorns FC in the playoffs.
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