all scores

Olivia Moultrie: Thorns’ title worth battle over NWSL age rule

(Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports)

Teenage sensation Olivia Moultrie didn’t spend much time on the field during Portland’s 2-0 NWSL Championship win over Kansas City, but that didn’t stop her from soaking in (most of) the celebrations with her squad.

Moultrie, a 17-year-old midfielder, subbed in for Yazmeen Ryan during stoppage time, but she only reached the league’s biggest stage after a long legal battle.

The teenager’s journey to the NWSL was not an easy one, as she had to sue the league over its age restriction to make it happen. NWSL policy prevented players under 18 from signing with teams.

“The message was, first of all, that men and women should have equal opportunities. I was fighting for it because the MLS is not dealing with this,” she told the Oregonian in August. “They have their homegrown rule, they have a way to implement players. The women didn’t have that.

“And also, just in general, if you’re good enough, you’re old enough. That was the whole statement.”

When it was her turn with the mic during the Thorns’ post-championship celebration Tuesday night in Portland, Moultrie let fans know exactly how she felt about her legal fight.

“All I can say is, going to court was worth it to play here,” she said.

The statement elicited cheers from the crowd and laughter from her teammates as Moultire passed the microphone off and took her place next to the rest of the Thorns.

The midfielder made 15 appearances and started eight games for the Thorns this season, scoring three goals and recording four assists. She signed a three-year contract with Portland on June 30, 2021, and later became the youngest player to score in an NWSL game.

Moultrie took part in most of the celebrations with her teammates — but of course, at 17, she avoided the champagne consumption, leading to a string of photos that went viral on Twitter. As teammates hoisted champagne bottles, Moultire can be seen in the background looking amused and slightly concerned with the festivities.