SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Forward Sophia Smith scored in the fifth minute and Portland Thorns FC defeated San Diego Wave FC 1-0 on the road at Torero Stadium in NWSL Challenge Cup play Saturday night.

Goalkeeper Abby Smith, making her Portland debut, picked up a clean sheet in the match.

The victory moves Portland into a tie on points with OL Reign atop the West Division in tournament play.

Match Moments

5' - GOAL (POR) - The Thorns took an early 1-0 lead on some great combination play in attack. Christine Sinclair did some nice hold up play before passing a ball out to the right to Natalia Kuikka. The Thorns wingback raced in on goal before squaring a ball back across the face of the net for forward Sophia Smith to tap in for her first goal of the season.

19' - SAVE (POR) - Thorns goalkeeper Abby Smith, making her first ever start for Portland, came up big to with a kick-save on the back post on a close attempt from San Diego's Alex Morgan. Moments later on the ensuing corner, the ball fell outside the box for Morgan again who sent a stinging shot that Smith was in position to grab.

22' - CHANCE (POR) - Portland's Kuikka sent a gorgeous ball over the top that found Smith on the run in the box. Smith's one-timed shot was stopped, however, by a diving save from San Diego goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan.

30' - CHANCE (POR) - Midfielder Hina Sugita dribbled straight up the middle, found herself with space and sent a knuckling shot on goal that Sheridan had to dive to her left to save.

45+2' - CHANCE (POR) - Kuikka sprang defender Kelli Hubly on the right wing. Hubly went to the attacking third and then crossed a ball back to the penalty spot for Smith who took a touch and then shot but Sheridan denied the attempt.

61' - CHANCE (POR) - Sugita, freed down the left flank on a throughball from Meghan Klingenberg, hit a cross to the far side that Sinclair hit on the volley but the shot went just wide of the right post.

75' - CHANCE (POR) - With Portland continuing to push upfield, midfielder Yazmeen Ryan fired a 20-yard rising shot that narrowly went over the bar.

-----------

The Thorns continue their NWSL Challenge Cup campaign next Wednesday with their first home game of the tournament as they host Angel City FC at Providence Park on Mar. 30 (7pm PT, TICKETS, Paramount+).

Portland Thorns FC (1-0-1, 4pt) vs. San Diego Wave FC (0-1-1, 1pt)
(NWSL Challenge Cup)
March 26, 2022 – Torero Stadium (San Diego, Calif.)

Scoring Summary:
POR: S. Smith (Kuikka), 5

Misconduct Summary:
POR: Klingenberg (caution), 46

Lineups:
POR: GK A. Smith, D Hubly, D Menges, D Nally, M Kuikka, M Coffey, M Klingenberg (Beckman, 84), M Ryan (Porter, 77), M Sugita (Moultrie, 61), F S. Smith (Weaver, 61), F Sinclair ©

Substitutes Not Used: GK Bixby, D Pogarch, D Provenzano, M Everett, F Betfort

SD: GK Sheridan, D McGrady, D Girma, D Dahlkemper © (Riehl, 70), D Westphal, M McNabb, M Kornieck (Ali, 46), M Johnson (van Egmond, 46), M Turnbow (Briede¸ 62), F Morgan (Taylor, 70), F Jakobsson (Schimmer, 78)

Substitutes Not Used: GK Telford, D Hansen, M Pulver

Referee: Luis Guardia
Assistant Referees: Mathew Schwartz, Rebecca Luther
4th Official: Fernando Fierro
Attendance: 6,000
Weather: Partly cloudy, 70 degrees

All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial.

Notes:

  • Thorns FC earned their first win of 2022 competition. 
  • Head coach Rhian Wilkinson registered her first win at the helm of Thorns FC. 
  • Portland claimed the win in the first ever matchup between Thorns FC and San Diego Wave.
  • Thorns FC are unbeaten in their last seven Challenge Cup matches (4-0-3).
  • Portland is unbeaten on the road in Challenge Cup play (2-0-2).
  • Dating back to 2014, Portland has compiled a record of 8-0-0 against new expansion sides in their first season in the league.
  • Thorns FC are 5-0-0 when playing expansion teams in their first season on the road.
  • Portland earned its first clean sheet of the year, and sixth in a Challenge Cup match.
  • Sophia Smith scored her first goal in a Challenge Cup match for Portland. 
  • S. Smith’s goal was her ninth in 33 appearances for Portland across all competitions. 
  • Natalia Kuikka tallied her first Challenge Cup assist with Portland. 
  • Natalie Beckman made her professional and Thorns FC debut, subbing into the match in the second half. 
  • Abby Smith made her Thorns FC debut, starting the match. 
  • A. Smith is the fourth goalkeeper to feature for Thorns FC in a Challenge Cup match and earn a clean sheet. (Bixby, Eckerstrom, Franch, A. Smith)
  • Taylor Porter made her Challenge Cup debut for Portland.
  • Meghan Klingenberg started in her 13th Challenge Cup appearance with Portland. She is the only player to start and play in every match of the Challenge Cup for the club since the tournament began in 2020.
  • Morgan Weaver appeared in her 13th Challenge Cup game with Thorns FC. She joins Klingenberg as the only other player to appear in all of Portland’s Challenge Cup matches.