Thorns FC

Thorns Academy wraps up ECNL campaign with playoff appearances


The Portland Thorns Academy wrapped up its 2022-23 ENCL campaign, sending three teams to the national playoffs held in San Diego, Calif. The Thorns Academy U-17 (2006), U- (2007, and U- (2009) squads represented not only the club but also the state as the only Oregon-based club in the Champions League level (highest competitive level) of the postseason, marking a crucial step in the continued development of the Thorns Academy on the national stage.

The ECNL National Playoffs bring together the top 44 teams across the country at various age levels to compete for a championship. In addition, more than 1,000 colleges and universities as well as U.S. Soccer scouts attended the tournament to evaluate talent.

Here is a round-up of each team’s performance in the playoffs:

Thorns U-17 Academy (2006)

The Thorns U-17 side had a dominating run through the Northwest Conference during the regular season, posting an unbeaten 11-0-2 record, outscoring opponents 40-7, and securing the conference title.

With a strong run in the group stage of the playoffs, against three difficult opponents, the Thorns U-17s finished second in Group F and became the first Thorns Academy team to advance to the Round of 16 as one of the top 16 teams in the country. U.S. Soccer youth international Shaela Bradley scored a team-high four goals during the tournament, while Chloe Chase pitched in with a brace during the group stage and held down the center of the park in dominating fashion.

Thorns U-16 Academy (2007)

The Thorns U-16s proved to be a well-rounded group during the playoffs and tallied five goals in three games with goals coming from five different players. After competing against two of the top teams in the country early in Group B play, the Thorns U-16s defeated a St. Louis Scott Gallagher Navy side, 3-1.

The team was led by defender Paige Nakada, whose incredible 1-on-1 defending and vision made her instrumental on the field. Baylee Bushnell scored a goal and played every minute of the postseason, stepping up and playing the midfield position for the first time this season. Frances Reuland was instrumental in creating many of the team’s scoring chances, and she finished the playoffs with a goal and an assist.

Thorns U-14 Academy (2009)

With a 9-2-2 record – and a top-four finish – in the Northwest Conference during the regular season, the Thorns U-14s punched their ticket to the playoffs. Highly competitive in Group B, the Thorns U-14s took their first two opponents down to the final whistle before earning a 3-3 draw with Eagles SC of Southern California in their final group stage match. As a team, the U-14s notched six goals during the tournament. Forward Riley Weaks scored a Thorns Academy-best five goals during the tournament, while Aaliyah Johnsonpoured in a goal and an assist to help secure the draw against Eagles SC.

“While we had several individual standout performances, it takes the entire depth of a roster, over a grueling, year-long season to find success at this level,” said Gabe Tatz, Soccer Operations Director for the Thorns Academy. “We could not accomplish this level of success without each player’s contributions to the team. We are extremely proud of all our players, coaches, staff, and parents who helped make this trip so successful.

The future for the Thorns Academy is bright.