The Portland Thorns got one step closer to a spot in the NWSL Challenge Cup semifinals with a 3-2 win over San Diego on Sunday.
While the Thorns sit second in Group B with 10 points, three points behind OL Reign, they have the best record out of any second-place team, which puts them in position for the fourth and final spot in the semifinals heading into the final weekend of the group stage.
The Thorns went up by three goals early, with Sophia Smith scoring one in the fourth minute. Rookie Hina Sugita then notched a brace, scoring goals in the 21st and 41st minutes to put the Thorns up 3-0 heading into the half.
“The message at halftime was to hold the standard and not get too comfortable,” said midfielder Sam Coffey. “Then we were flat and didn’t hold up to that standard — the Thorns standard.”
San Diego came out firing after halftime, with Bella Briede scoring her first NWSL goal in the 46th minute. Mere seconds into being subbed onto the field, Taylor Kornieck notched another in the 67th minute.
There were several other chances, including a volley from Alex Morgan that hit the right goal post. Portland’s Bella Bixby had four saves in the win.
SO. CLOSE. 😳 @alexmorgan13 | #WaveFC pic.twitter.com/OyTetfHefw— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) April 18, 2022
SO. CLOSE. 😳 @alexmorgan13 | #WaveFC pic.twitter.com/OyTetfHefw
“The piece that I am proud of today is that they stuck with it,” Thorns head coach Rhian Wilkinson said. “And to be a winning team, you have to win gritty games as well, and that’s what we did today.”