Match Recap

Bella Bixby's heroics in stoppage time keep Thorns undefeated in 2023

Portland Thorns and Angel City FC share points in 3-3 thriller at Providence Park
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The Portland Thorns saw NWSL action at home for the second weekend in a row on Saturday evening. They welcomed Angel City FC to Providence Park for the third time since the Los Angeles club joined the league.

On the hunt to go five-straight matches undefeated to start the 2023 NWSL season, Portland head coach Mike Norris opted for a change with the starting eleven. The most notable absence from the starting squad was MVP Sophia Smith, who would sit on the bench at the beginning of the match.

Things did not start well for Portland, who conceded early in the 9th minute, courtesy of an Alyssa Thompson solo-effort goal.

The Thorns bounced back though, Angel City's goal seeming to serve as a wake-up call. As the offense began to flow, the girls in black and red pushed Angel City further and further back into their final third. In the 20th minute, Morgan Weaver fired the first warning shot, taking a right-footed shot from inside the box. Her shot went wide left, but it was an indication that Portland was not planning to back down.

And then, Portland equalized in the 29th minute, courtesy of a penalty kick. Following a dangerous drive down the left, Morgan Weaver cut a pass back into the center of the box. A sliding Julie Ertz stopped the ball with her arm and the referee pointed to the spot. With dozens of faithful Japanese supporters present at Providence Park, midfielder Hina Sugita confidently took possession of the ball, claiming the equalizing opportunity. Sugita made no mistake and buried a low shot to Dijana Haracic's bottom right. Red smoke filled the north end, and things were square, 1-1.

With the match tied, both clubs returned to the locker room for the break.

The Thorns completed the turnaround 20 minutes into the second half. In a brilliant play by 17-year-old Olivia Moultrie. Bringing the ball into Angel City's final third, Moultrie sent a 25-yard through ball into the six-yard box where Morgan Weaver tapped it past a diving Haracic. Weaver swiftly pushed the ball into the open net to score the second of the night for the Thorns.

In a controversial Thorns own-goal, Angel City equalized the game 2-2 in the 74th minute. The visitors then retook the lead five minutes later via Julie Ertz, adding to the rollercoaster night.

As time ran out, and Angel City did everything to kill time, Portland was left with one final corner kick in the 5th minute of stoppage time. Clutchness arrived in the form of Bella Bixby, who joined the opposing goal for the final chance of the game. After Haracic fumbled the incoming corner, Bella Bixby treated Providence Park to the cheekiest backheel goal it has ever seen. Her quick and exquisite finish sent the stadium into a frenzy. Chants of "She's our keeper!" echoing amidst the red smoke emitted from the Rose City Riveters.

In a match with three lead changes, and three comebacks, it was the Thorns' no-quit attitude that have earned them their 5th match unbeaten in the 2023 NWSL season. With the point earned Saturday night, Portland maintains sole possession of first place in the league.

Special note: Bella Bixby joins Michelle Betos as the only goalkeepers to score (and equalize in stoppage-time) for the Portland Thorns in NWSL play.

Here's another angle of Bixby's cheeky equalizer, for your viewing pleasure. #BAON