HERRIMAN, Utah – Led by a masterful performance in goal by Britt Eckerstrom and a late second-half strike from forward Morgan Weaver – her first career NWSL goal – the eighth seeded Portland Thorns FC knocked off the top-seeded North Carolina Courage in the quarterfinals of the NWSL Challenge Cup Friday morning at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman.
Eckerstrom made a career-high eight saves and the Thorns defense picked up their third shutout in the tournament while midfielder Rocky Rodríguez earned an assist on the game-winning goal.
The Thorns advance to the tournament semifinals on Wednesday, July 22 (9:30am PT, CBS All Access) to face the winner of the Utah Royals FC-Houston Dash quarterfinal match.
- MATCHCENTER: Stats
12' - CHANCE (POR) - Thorns midfielder Lindsey Horan went 1v1 from the left side and dribbled into the NC endline. Her cut back pass found forward Tyler Lussi who one-timed her shot but it was blocked away by a Courage defender.
28' - SAVE (POR) - North Carolina's Debinha sprung forward Lynn Williams into the area who fired a hard shot at the Portland net. Thorns goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom deftly blocked the shot up, spun, and then caught the rebound.
Britt staying solid. pic.twitter.com/e4XFMQZ5wC— Portland Thorns FC (@ThornsFC) July 17, 2020
31' - SAVE (POR) - Eckerstrom came up big again when Debinha, with space atop the box, lashed a shot towards the top corner that the Portland 'keeper dove to her left to parry away.
Britt EckerSTRONG! pic.twitter.com/F8SuNbF9DH— Portland Thorns FC (@ThornsFC) July 17, 2020
34' - SAVE (POR) - NC continued to press with Debinha slaloming through Portland defense and hitting a low shot on frame but Eckerstrom went low to cover.
45+3' - CHANCE (POR) - Portland had some nice work around the box led by Horan. She slipped a pass to Angela Salem whose shot floated just high of the crossbar.
45+8' - SAVE (POR) - Eckerstrom continued her excellent first half play as North Carolina came out on the break. Crystal Dunn pushed a ball out wide right to an open Kristen Hamilton but her shot was palmed away by Eckerstrom.
54' - CHANCE (POR) - Midfielder Celeste Boureille sent a ball towards the back left post that forward Morgan Weaver looped a headed shot but Courage goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland made the save.
65' - SAVE (POR) - Eckerstrom made a spectacular diving save of a Debinha header following a Courage corner kick.
68' - GOAL (POR) - Portland, who was patiently working the ball around the Courage 18-yard box, got the ball to midfielder Rocky Rodríguez. Rodríguez took on her defender on the right, nutmegged a pass across the face of goal to Weaver who had been lurking at the back post and slotted her shot home for a 1-0 Thorns lead.
72' - SAVE (POR) - North Carolina threw a corner in that Portland had trouble clearing. The ball looped to forward Jessica McDonald who headed her show down but Eckerstrom dove to her right to save and collect.
79' - SAVE (POR) - Eckerstrom continued her heroic performance as she leapt high to her right to make a finger tip save on a curling free kick from NC's Debinha.
85' - CHANCE (POR) - Rodríguez led a promising attack forward for Portland and threaded a perfect pass across to Boureille. Boureille's shot and rebound attempts were both stopped by Rowland and a follow up shot was knocked out for a corner.
86' - SAVE (POR) - Down the other way, Debinha broke through on a breakaway but Eckerstrom came off her line to cut down the angle and stop the shot. She also knocked away the dangerous rebound.
Portland Thorns FC advance to the semifinals to play the winner of the Utah Royals FC - Houston Dash quarterfinal on Wednesday, July 22 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. Kickoff time is 9:30am PT on CBS All Access.
- Portland is the only team to have scored a goal against North Carolina in the Challenge Cup.
- Thorns FC is the first team to record a shutout against the Courage since May 4, 2019.
- Friday’s match marked just the seventh time North Carolina has been held scoreless in a match across all competitions, dating back to the 2017 season.
- Portland has recorded more shutouts against the Courage (3) than any team in the NWSL.
- Britt Eckerstrom was named Budweiser Woman of the Match, finishing the match with eight saves and a shutout.
- Eckerstrom finished the match with a career-best eight saves.
- Morgan Weaver tallied her first professional goal in the match.
- Rocky Rodríguez registered her first assist as a member of Thorns FC.
- Through five matches, 21 players have made an appearance for Portland in the Challenge Cup.
- In the last six meetings against North Carolina, across all competitions, four of those six matches have been decided by one goal.
Portland Thorns FC vs. North Carolina Courage
2020 NWSL Challenge Cup - Quarterfinals
July 17, 2020 – Zions Bank Stadium (Herriman, Utah)
Goals by Half 1 2 F
North Carolina Courage 0 0 0
Portland Thorns FC 0 1 1
POR: Weaver (Rodríguez), 68
NCC: Debinha (caution), 52
NCC: O’Sullivan (caution), 90+4
POR: GK Eckerstrom, D Reynolds (Westphal, 42), D Menges, D Hubly, D Klingenberg (Pogarch, 82), M Rodríguez, Salem, M Horan (Boureille, 51), M Sinclair ©, F Lussi (Charley, 51), F Weaver (Seiler, 82)
Substitutes Not Used: GK Angerer, D Nally, D Smithers, M Ogle, F Everett, F A. Rodriguez
TOTAL SHOTS: 10 (Three players tied, 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (Westphal, 2); FOULS: 9 (Salem, 4); OFFSIDES: 1; CORNER KICKS: 5; SAVES: 8
NCC: GK Rowland, D Merrick (Mace, 78), D Dahlkemper, D Erceg ©, D Daniels, M Dunn, M O’Sullivan, M Mewis, M Debinha, F Hamilton (McDonald, 45), F L. Williams
Substitutes Not Used: GK Murphy, GK Labbė, D Agnew, D Harbison, D Kurtz, D R. Williams, M Roccaro, M Speck, M Milliet, F McDonald, F Meehan
TOTAL SHOTS: 21 (Debinha, 7); SHOTS ON GOAL: 8 (Debinha, 7); FOULS: 6 (Hamilton, 2); OFFSIDES: 2; CORNER KICKS: 10; SAVES: 2
Referee: Lukasz Szpala
Assistant Referees: Brooke Mayo, Salma Perez
4th Official: Michael Radchuk
Weather: Sunny, 87 degrees
All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial