All Scores

Top Plays From the NWSL Challenge Cup Quarterfinals

HERRIMAN, UTAH – JULY 17: Morgan Weaver #22 of Portland Thorns FC gains control of the ball during the quarterfinal match of the NWSL Challenge Cup at Zions Bank Stadium on July 17, 2020 in Herriman, Utah. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Though goals were hard to come by, the NWSL Challenge Cup continued to produce inspiring soccer throughout the quarterfinals. Here are the top 5 plays from the first round of knockout play.

 

5. WATT DICES UP THE DEFENSE

The Chicago Red Stars’ Kealia Watt cuts up not one, not two, but three defenders in their own box. (Even our ankles are hurting after watching this play.) Watt did everything right, but couldn’t quite finish. Nevertheless, she later nailed her penalty kick, assisting her team in defeating OL Reign 4-3 in PKs after a scoreless draw. Expect Sky Blue to keep their eyes on the dynamic striker during their semifinal clash.

 

4. NAEHER PULLS OUT ALL THE STOPS

Somebody should have told Reign they were facing a World Cup champ. Here, Chicago’s Alyssa Naeher effortlessly dives across the goalmouth, pushing away Jess Fishlock’s hard-hitting shot. Naeher then characteristically brushes off her remarkable save and immediately starts giving directions to her teammates for the corner. That’s championship mentality.

 

3. WEAVER SHOCKS THE FAVORITES WITH CLINICAL FINISH

Portland Thorns’ rookie Morgan Weaver is already playing like a vet. Here, she calmly collects Rocky Rodríguez’s diagonal ball and places it in the back of the net. With Weaver cashing in, the Thorn’s upset the number one seed North Carolina and are now on their way to a semifinal bout with Houston.

 

2. WANT GOALS? GO SOMEWHERE ELSE, SAYS SHERIDAN

Sky Blue FC’s Kailen Sheridan currently leads the tournament with 20 saves. Yup, 20. Sheridan played a substantial role in the quarterfinals, boosting Sky Blue to the semifinals as the team knocked off the Washington Spirit 4-3 in penalties. Here, Sheridan flexes her sixth sense as she deflects Ashley Sanchez’s header to keep the score sheet clean. That’s a game-winning, fingertip save.

 

1. ECKERSTROM PUTS AN END TO CAROLINA’S REIGN

This is just one of eight jaw-dropping saves Britt Eckerstrom made in her tournament debut. Announcer Mike Watts described the Portland Thorns’ keeper’s effort as “one of the great goalkeeping performances in league history,” and we agree. Here, Eckerstrom attacks Debinha’s shot, diving to push the ball safely to the side.

To take down a giant, you need heroic performances from unexpected players. Eckerstrom did just that, and her performance may have been the highlight of the tournament so far. She kept a clean slate, and in doing so, helped dethrone the reigning 2x NWSL champs while securing Portland its first win of the tournament and, more importantly, a spot in the semifinals.

Sofia Huerta signs contract extension with Seattle through 2027

(Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports)

Former Oregon soccer players detail instances of verbal abuse from former USWNT assistant

(Chris Pietsch/The Register-Guard via Imagn Content Services)

Members of the Oregon women’s soccer team are saying they received harsh treatment and even verbal abuse from head coach and former USWNT assistant Graeme Abel. 

During the 2023 season, the team had zero wins, and upon its conclusion a total of 12 of the team’s 29 players departed the team. Former players told The Oregonian that Abel would verbally attack them, threaten to kick them off the team and at times would even throw objects.

"When I’d make a mistake at practice, it felt like he made it a job to embarrass you to the point where you just wanted to walk off the field,” one player said. “He’d stop the practice – and I know it’s college soccer, it’s very competitive — but he’d stop practice and just keep going nonstop on this one thing."

In total, the Oregonian spoke with 14 former players – including 12 who agreed to be interviewed in depth. All said that they experienced verbal abuse. Six of the players were among those who transferred following the season. 

One instance of Abel’s tirades included him throwing a water bottle that narrowly missed players’ heads. 

“He kicked all of our staff out of the locker room, kicked a trash can, threw a white board, sat on the trash can and started screaming,” one player recounted. “He wanted us to tell him what we thought went wrong in the game. Me and another player spoke up, and he said, ‘You’re just (expletive) wrong.’ And that if we didn’t want to be in this program, we could all quit, and he’d sign our release paperwork tomorrow.”

While Abel was not made available for an interview, he did say in a statement that “at no point have I used threatening statements or financial repercussions as a part of coaching.”

Instances of emotional distress stemming from Abel’s alleged harsh treatment date back to 2021 – his first full year leading the team following an abbreviated 2020 campaign.

Other former players contacted by The Oregonian detailed positive overall experiences, and described his style as “normal coaching.”

Others, like USWNT players Becky Sauerbrunn and Lindsey Horan, did not respond to requests for comment, although Sauerbrunn wrote in 2019 that she had a “great relationship” with Abel. 

Still, multiple players interviewed had similar stories, with one saying that girls would be “crying in the locker room” after practice because of what he would tell players. Attempts to speak with the administration about his behavior, players say, was “discouraging.”

“His office is like the scariest place,” one player said. “You’d have to sit there while he’d belittle you and say all these nasty things, and gaslight you into believing you’re not good enough. ... Our team fell apart because of the environment he created. We were just trying to get through the day. There was no way we could focus on soccer.”

Multiple players said they experienced suicidal ideation while playing at Oregon. In part of his statement, Abel wrote that “at no time do we put our student-athletes in any danger.”

Abel is currently in his fifth and final year of his contract at Oregon.

Gotham FC unveil Championship rings ahead of banner reveal

Gotham FC players celebrate Lynn Williams' goal in the first half of the 2023 NWSL Championship. (Ray Acevedo/USA TODAY Sports)

Gotham FC has unveiled their 2023 NWSL championship rings — and safe to say, they deliver.

The reveal has led to a little bit of trash talk ahead of the team’s matchup with Kansas City this weekend, as both teams have NFL owners. While the Current are co-owned by Patrick and Brittany Mahomes, former Giants quarterback Eli Manning is a co-owner of Gotham. 

On Wednesday, Manning took to Sportscenter to give Mahomes a bit of a hard time.

“He may have one more Super Bowl ring than me, but he does not have a NWSL championship ring like I do,” Manning joked.

“Come Sunday night at Red Bull Arena, April 14th, we’re dropping the banner on Kansas City. We got the ring ceremony, the players get their rings and their championship afterwards. This is it, I’ve got something to talk a little trash to him about because I can’t do it about football anymore, I gotta find something else.”

The appearance came after Manning posted to social media, inviting Mahomes to “come see [the championship ring] up close this Sunday.”

Mahomes responded in kind, writing that “we’ll see y’all Sunday!”

Gotham takes on current league-leaders Kansas City on Sunday at 6pm ET. The game is available on NWSL+.

Oregon State hit by transfer portal again as Raegan Beers departs

ALBANY, NEW YORK - MARCH 31: Raegan Beers #15 of the Oregon State Beavers shoots a free throw during the first half against the South Carolina Gamecocks in the Elite 8 round of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament at MVP Arena on March 31, 2024 in Albany, New York. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Oregon State leading scorer and rebounder Raegan Beers announced on Thursday that she is entering the transfer portal. 

"Thank you for all of your endless love and support these past two years," she posted on social media. "I will never forget my time at OSU and I am thankful for the opportunity I had to meet and play with incredible people. My journey as a Beav was a special one and I am grateful for my teammates, coaches, fans, and friends who have changed my life throughout my time here."

A sophomore forward, Beers is a two-time All-Pac-12 selection who averaged 17.5 points per game last season while shooting 66.4 percent from the field. She also added 10.3 rebounds en route to earning third-team All-American honors from the AP. 

She’s the fourth Oregon State starter – and seventh player overall – to hit the portal this offseason. She joins Talia von Oelhoggen and Timea Gardiner in the transfer portal, as well as starting freshman Donovyn Hunter. 

Beers and Gardiner were both top-10 recruits in ESPN rankings coming out of high school. 

With the dissolution of the Pac-12, the program will join the WCC next season and no longer be a part of the Power 5.

Conference realignment is hitting the team hard, with coach Scott Rueck saying during the tournament that he knew it could seriously affect his team moving forward. 

"That's reality," Rueck said. "I can't control that, other than just keep doing what I'm doing. I think the opportunity within that for a leader provides a discipline that you'd better be on your A-game all the time. You'd better take care of people, and you'd better provide a great experience. That's the approach going forward and what happens, happens. We'll find a way."

Start your morning off right with Just Women’s Sports’ free, 5x-a-week newsletter.