Coffey's goal helped Thorns FC clinch a spot in the 2022 NWSL Playoffs.
Three minutes into the second half of Portland Thorns FC's game against Racing Louisville, midfielder Sam Coffey corralled a heavy pass at the top of the box, turned and allowed momentum carry her through the heart of Louisville's defense.
Remnants of red smoke still hung in the air as the Rose City Riveters, still celebrating Sophia Smith's goal a minute earlier, willed another shot their way. Coffey obliged, firing a left-footed effort into the far bottom corner. There wasn't anything goalkeeper Katie Lund could do to stop it.
Coffey has done just about everything else right for the Thorns in her stellar rookie season, earning several call-ups to the United States women's national team in the process, so it was about time she netted a goal herself.
"We were finally able to score goals, which was something we were trying to do in the past few game and it has been frustrating for us," said Kelli Hubly. "To get a lot of goals, have a great team performance and get a shutout was really big."
Despite Portland's significant shots and possession advantage, it headed to halftime tied at 0 as the first 45 minutes felt like a repeat of the Thorns' game against the Kansas City Current last Sunday, one in which they outshot the Current 29-10 only to draw 1-1 after late drama. Thankfully, that didn't happen Wednesday night.
Coffey's goal came in the midst of a torrid run of goals that allowed Portland to slam the door shut on a pesky Louisville team and eventually secure three crucial points, helping them temporarily top the NWSL table once again and keep pace in the race for the Shield.
"I'll take it," said Thorns FC coach Rhian Wilkinson. "At halftime I think my staff gave (players) really clear pictures of places they could exploit. They did a great job of using what we tried to show them as opportunity and came out firing. I was really pleased of that response in the second half."
Smith's 47th-minute goal was her 12th of the 2022 season and will go down as the goal that allowed the Thorns to set a new single-season goal scoring record. Olivia Moultrie tacked on Portland's final goal with a late run into the box to bring a lofted ball down and eventually fire it past Lund.
From there, the Thorns entered cruise control and rode out a second clean sheet in three games. In the 78th minute Coffey left the game, replaced by Crystal Dunn who made her return to the field at Providence Park for the first time since the birth of her son, Marcel, to rapturous applause.
Wednesday night provided a cathartic 90 minutes all the way around for the Thorns, much needed after a bitter end to their last match out against the Current.
"We're all leaving (Kansas City) with a little rage inside, but we can't let it be a distraction," said Coffey following Sunday's draw. "We have to channel that frustration and anger into our game on Wednesday."
The Thorns certainly made good on their promise against Racing Louisville, and did so in fine style. A first NWSL goal, another clean sheet, a new single-season scoring record: there was a lot to celebrate at Providence Park midweek as Portland reclaimed its place atop the NWSL.