Thorns FC

Propelled by Hina Sugita's diving header, Thorns FC defeat Gotham FC 1-0 and ink playoff berth

The Japan international's fifth goal of the campaign in the 54th minute was enough to earn PTFC all three points and a spot in the 2023 NWSL postseason.

PORTLAND, Ore. – Portland Thorns FC earned a critical 1-0 win at home against NJ/NY Gotham FC on Saturday afternoon at Providence Park, receiving an early second-half goal from Hina Sugita. With the win and draw in the San Diego Wave FC vs. North Carolina Courage match, Portland locked up a top-two seed in the NWSL Playoffs, earning a bye and a home semifinal match on Nov. 5. The Thorns (35pts) remain in contention for the NWSL Shield as they enter the last week of the regular season with a two-point edge over second-place San Diego (33pts).

Portland Postseason

With their win, the Thorns secured a postseason berth, earning a top-two finish for a third straight season. Portland has qualified for the playoffs in seven consecutive regular seasons. It also marks the ninth time the Thorns have qualified for the playoffs in 10 NWSL regular seasons – the most of any team in the league. The playoff berth also marks the first for head coach Mike Norris in his coaching career.

Coffey Time

Sam Coffey tallied her NWSL-leading eighth assist of the season. She has set up goals for seven different players in 2023 – the most different teammates any player has assisted in a single season in league history. Her eight assists rank as the second-most in a single season in club history, trailing only Tobin Heath’s 10 assists from the 2016 campaign. Coffey’s assist was also the 10th of her Thorns FC career, making her the seventh player to register double-digit assists in club history.

Home Sweet Home

Portland registered its seventh home win of the 2023 season, finishing with a 7-2-2 record at Providence Park in NWSL regular season play. The Thorns outscored their opponents by a margin of 23-10 in those 11 home matches. The team’s 23 home goals are tied for fourth-most in a single season and marks the ninth time the Thorns have scored at least 20 home goals. It’s also the sixth time Portland has won seven or more home games in a season. With today’s win, Thorns FC are unbeaten in their last nine regular-season home finales, posting a record of 6-0-3 in those matches.

Goal-Scoring Plays

POR – Hina Sugita (Sam Coffey), 54th minute: Keeping possession after a corner kick, Sam Coffey popped out onto the right wing and delivered a pinpoint left-footed cross to find Hina Sugita, who made a back post run and finished with a diving header.


  • Thorns FC secured a playoff berth for a seventh consecutive season, qualifying for the postseason in nine of 10 NWSL regular seasons.
  • Portland earned its 10th win of the season. Thorns FC have won 10 or more games for a seventh straight season and for the ninth time in 10 seasons.
  • Thorns FC have scored in 19 of their 21 games this campaign.
  • With the win, Portland extended its unbeaten run to eight home matches (4-0-4) across all competitions against NJ/NY Gotham FC, including three straight wins. 
  • Thorns FC have shutout Gotham FC in each of the last two meetings at Providence Park.
  • Coffey registered her NWSL-leading eighth assist of the season. It ranks as the second-most assists in a single season by a Thorns FC player, trailing only Tobin Heath’s 10 assists in 2016.
  • The assist was Coffey’s 10th of her career with Portland, making her the sixth player to reach double-digit assists for the club.
  • Hina Sugita tallied her second goal in the last three games for Portland.
  • Sugita’s goal was her fifth of the season. With that goal, Sugita has scored five goals in each of her first two seasons with Portland. 
  • With her 10th career Thorns FC goal, Sugita becomes the 11th player in club history to score double-digit goals.
  • Sugita became the fourth player to tally at least five goals for Thorns FC this season. Portland’s four players with five or more goals are the most of any team in the NWSL.
  • Sugita is the third international player (Hayley Raso, Nadia Nadim) in Portland history to score 10 or more career goals.
  • Christine Sinclair appeared in her 175th career NWSL match.
  • Coffey and Morgan Weaver are the only two players to start every match for Thorns FC this season.
  • Weaver was named the Supporters’ Player of the Year in a postgame ceremony.
  • Bella Bixby surpassed 5,000 career minutes played in the match. She is just the second goalkeeper in club history to reach this mark.

Next Game

Thorns FC wrap up regular season action on the road against Angel City FC on Sunday, Oct. 15; kickoff is set for 2 p.m. (Pacific) at BMO Stadium with streaming available on Paramount+.

Portland Thorns FC (10-6-5, 35pts) vs. NJ/NY Gotham FC (8-7-6, 30pts)
Oct. 7, 2023 – Providence Park (Portland, Ore.)     

Scoring Summary:
POR: Sugita (Coffey), 54

Misconduct Summary:

POR: GK Bixby, D Klingenberg (Reyes, 71), D Menges, D Sauerbrunn (Hubly, 61) ©, D Kuikka, M Coffey, M Moultrie (Smith, 83), M Dunn (Rodríguez, 71), F Weaver, F Betfort (Sinclair, 71), F Sugita

Substitutes Not Used: GK Hogan, D Nally, F D’Aquila, F Vasconcelos

TOTAL SHOTS: 9 (Sugita, 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (Sugita, 2); FOULS: 6 (Sugita, 2); OFFSIDES: 4; CORNER KICKS: 6; SAVES: 3

NJNY: GK Haught, D Nighswonger, D Krieger ©, D Edmonds (Stengel, 76), D Bruninha (Shim, 87), M López, M Sheehan (Onumonu, 87), M Ryan, F Williams, F González, F Purce (Farrelly, 66)

Substitutes Not Used: GK Betos, D Martin, D Freeman, D Jean, D Flores 

TOTAL SHOTS: 8 (Purce, Sheehan, 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (Three players tied, 1); FOULS: 13 (Sheehan, 3); OFFSIDES: 3; CORNER KICKS: 9; SAVES: 2

Referee: Danielle Chesky 
Assistant Referees: Matthew Schwartz, Melissa Gonzalez
Fourth Official: Aidan Velasco
VAR: Shawn Tehini
Weather: Sunny, 80 degrees
Attendance: 19,599

All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial.

Next Game

Thorns FC go on the road for the final match of the season. They visit Angel City FC for a Sunday afternoon showdown on Oct. 15; Kickoff from BMO Stadium is set for 2 p.m. (Pacific) and streaming will be available on Paramount+.