In front of 4,319 fans at the Maryland SoccerPlex, their biggest of the season, the Washington Spirit defeated the Portland Thorns 1-0. Francisca Ordega scored her fourth goal of the season in the 19th minute to give the Spirit a major win at home, and only their second all-time win against the Thorns.
First Half Belonged to the Spirit
The Portland Thorns did not appear themselves in the first-half. Perhaps the list of injuries have begun to take its toll (Nadia Nadim was not in the starting 11), or the 3,000 mile cross-country trek affected the players. Whatever the reason and a determined Spirit squad, the Thorns struggled in the first 45, forcing goalkeeper Adrianna Franch to make a save in the ninth minute. By the 19th minute, Ortega took advantage of a poor pass between Celeste Boureille and Allie Long. Ordega stole the ball, breaking away for a goal to put the Spirit in the lead.
Washington almost added another goal to its lead in the 22nd minute after a Havana Solaun shot that was saved by Franch. Two minutes later, Ordega pressed in the box, but the Thorns defense pressured her enough to send her shot off target. Nearing the 30th minute, Kristie Mewis attacked in the middle, leading to a Spirit corner kick. The attempt was eventually cleared away by Portland.
As the minutes neared halftime, the Spirit continued in its pursuit of a second goal as Ordega and Solaun threatened in the Portland box, but the Thorns defense held their ground.
Spirit Hold Their Lead
Portland’s leading scorer, Nadia Nadim entered the game in the second half, replacing Ashleigh Sykes. Nadim missed last week’s match against Sky Blue with a left hamstring injury, and her presence was missed on the 1-3 loss. Her substitution provided an opportunity for Portland in the 58th minute as she sent her first shot towards the Washington goal, but Whitney Church was able to block it.
The Thorns continued to press forward in the second half, creating more opportunities than they did in the first half, but Spirit goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe stepped up to the challenge, making her second save of the game in the 60th minute. By the 80th minute, as the Thorns’ Lindsey Horan and Nadim took consecutive shots towards the Spirit goal, Washington’s defense blocked their attempts.
Regardless of the opportunities Portland tried to create in the final ten minutes, including one in the 85th minute with open space in the Washington box, they were unsuccessful in the crucial pass needed to tie the game. In those closing minutes, Ordega and Katie Stengel responded with a quick 2v1 run up the middle with a Stengel pass to Ordega for a shot, but it was saved by Franch.
As the game approached the final whistle in stoppage time, Portland maintained possession, attacking the third, but their final cross attempt bounced over the goal. It was Portland’s last opportunity, and Washington celebrated its third game without a loss.
Washington (3-5-2) will look to continue its unbeaten streak against the Boston Breakers next Saturday, and Portland (4-3-3) will host FC Kansas City at Providence Park. The Thorns have now lost two consecutive games.