Portland Thorns FC conceded a pair of first-half goals and were unable to overcome the two-goal deficit, falling 2-1 to the North Carolina Courage on Sunday afternoon at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park. Lindsey Horan tallied an early second-half goal for Portland, her league-leading 10th of the season, while Caitlin Foord made her Thorns FC debut in the match.
The Courage opened the scoring with a goal on the counter-attack in the 37th minute. Debinha played the ball out wide on the right side for Jessica McDonald and she slotted a cross into the center of the box. Williams arrived with a late run and directed the ball inside the left post.
Goalkeeper Adrianna Franch made a key stop late in the first half. On a North Carolina corner kick, midfielder McCall Zerboni redirected a flicked-on header with her back to goal, heading the ball down towards the left post, but Franch dove to her right to parry the attempt away and pounced on the loose ball in the 41st minute.
North Carolina doubled its lead in the 45th minute. Defender Merritt Mathias delivered a cross from the right edge of the box. Emily Menges attempted to clear the ball, but it deflected off Celeste Boureille and the ball landed at the feet of Williams, who hit a low shot that took a deflection and trickled over the line just inside the right post.
Menges made a solid defensive play deep in first-half stoppage time. McDonald dribbled into the box for the Courage and cut the ball back towards the center of goal, firing a shot towards the left corner of goal, but Menges stepped in front to block the attempt.
Thorns FC cut their deficit to one goal in the 49th minute as Horan tallied her 10th goal of the season. Hayley Raso helped earn Portland a free kick just outside the box on the right wing. Tobin Heath delivered pinpoint cross for Horan and she delivered a powerful header in stride past North Carolina goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland.
Franch kept Portland within striking distance with save on a low, hard strike from the edge of the box by Sam Mewis as she dove to her right to push the ball wide of the post in the 65th minute.
Searching for the equalizer, Heath and Christine Sinclair combined near the edge of the box. Sinclair played a pass to Foord running down the left side of the box and she fired a shot from inside the box in the 71st minute, forcing a save by Rowland.
Remaining on the road, Thorns FC square off against the Orlando Pride on Saturday, Aug. 4, at Orlando City Stadium. The Aug. 11 match kicks off at 4:30 p.m. (Pacific) and features a live web stream available at www.nwslsoccer.com and on the NWSL app.
Portland Thorns FC (8-6-5, 29pts) vs. North Carolina Courage (15-1-4, 49pts)
Aug. 5, 2018 – Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park (Cary, N.C.)
Goals by Half 1 2 F
Portland Thorns FC 0 1 1
North Carolina Courage 2 0 2
NCC: Williams (McDonald), 37
NCC: Williams, 45
POR: Horan (Heath), 49
POR: Sonnett (caution), 45+2
POR: Foord (caution), 81
POR: GK Franch, D Purce (Ball, 69), D Sonnett, D Menges, D Klingenberg, M Boureille, M Horan, M Raso (Andressinha, 73), M Sinclair ©, M Heath, F Crnogorcevic (Foord, 58)
Substitutes Not Used: GK Eckerstrom, D Hubly, F Lussi, F Weber
TOTAL SHOTS: 9 (Horan, 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 2 (Foord, Horan, 1); FOULS: 10 (Foord, 4), OFFSIDES: 1; CORNER KICKS: 1; SAVES: 8
NCC: GK Rowland, D Mathias, D Erceg ©, D Dahlkemper, D Hinkle, M O’Sullivan, M Zerboni, M Mewis (Dunn, 78), M Debinha (Hamilton, 85), F Williams, F McDonald
Substitutes Not Used: GK D’Angelo, D Kurtz, D Speck, M O’Reilly, F Jenkins
TOTAL SHOTS: 31 (Williams, 10); SHOTS ON GOAL: 10 (Williams, 4); FOULS: 10 (Debinha, 3); OFFSIDES: 3; CORNER KICKS: 7; SAVES: 1
Referee: Michael Radchuk
Assistant Referees: Benjamin Wooten, Ben Pilgrim
4th Official: Hicham El Bariqi
Weather: Partly cloudy, 84 degrees
All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial
-- visit www.thornsfc.com --