Thorn FC Are D.C. Bound
By J.J. Pavlick
In the 9’ of action, the San Diego Wave’s Alex Morgan finds Taylor Kornieck with a perfectly placed cross. Taylor makes quick work of the pass heading it into the goal with ease. The Thorn tried to respond but their shot attempt went just wide of the goal and out for a goal kick. During the 14’ of play the Thorn’s Klingenberg rifles a shot on the goal from 18-yards out, saved by Sheridan for the Wave. In the 19’ the Wave’s Kaleigh Riehl picks up a yellow card, and a minute later the Thorn’s Rocky Rodriguez volleys one into the back of the net from just outside the box, just over the outstretched hands of Sheridan to tie the match at 1-1. A few minutes later Morgan leads the charge for San Diego and finds Kornieck again open in front of the goal, but this time Bixby was up for the challenge and makes the point-blank save. During the 26’ of the play, Sophia Smith gets stoned at the doorstep by Sheridan. A few minutes later the Wave’s Van Egmond with a shot from outside the box saved by Bixby. The action continues to go back and forth between the high-powered offenses of both clubs. Let’s hope the referee stays in his lane this match and lets the players play. In the 40’ a hard collision with no malice between Yazmeen Ryan and McNabb. The referee shows Ryan a yellow card for the foul, a bit harsh honestly given the play. The 4th official announces a minimum of 3’ will be added to the half, in the 45’+1 the wave nearly scores off a right-footed strike by Morgan saved, and the rebound finds Kornieck whose shot is saved by Bixby. The center blows his whistle at 45’+4’ to end the 1st half, wow what a battle between these two teams. Game 1 today is living up to all the hype and thank you to all the fans who showed up to cheer these players on, we all know these players deserve to play in front of large crowds.
The 2nd half is underway, and the action is back and forth as predicted, in the 52’ Hubly called for a foul at midfield on Kornieck. Have to agree with Hubly it appears she got all ball and never touched Taylor. A minute later Taylor with a header at the goal, but it went wide to the right. Nice cross by Van Egmond to Taylor off the set piece. The two teams keep going at each other with no let-up in the action, A quick reminder VAR is not used in the NWSL, however, it will be used next season. Portland earns a corner in the 58’, and the Wave clears it easily out of danger. Rocky tries to repeat her earlier goal but this time the ball sails over the goal into the stands. The Wave decided to make a substitution, bringing on Makenzy Doniak for Jaedyn Reese Shaw in the 60’. The Thorns make a substitution in the 62’ bringing on Crystal Dunn for Rocky Rodriguez. Dunn with a shot from distance in the 65’ but, it’s handled by Sheridan with ease. Portland announces 22,035 fans in attendance today for this epic match-up between two great teams. 70’ Hubly is shown a yellow card after she takes out Alex Morgan near midfield. The Wave earns a corner kick following the free kick attempt, The cross finds Morgan, and the ball is headed back and forth a few times, shot is taken on the volley but saved easily by Bixby. We remain tied at 1-1 in the 73’ of the match. Both sides are trying to find that last touch for the win, however, the defenses are standing strong along with the goalkeepers. Bixby is down in the box, not sure what the exact issue is, she keeps pointing to her head, she’s possibly having vision issues and was given two packets by the trainer which she quickly took. Will have to keep an eye on her. Substitution for the Thorns in the 77’ Janine Beckie comes on for Yazmeen Ryan. Sophia Smith with an excellent ball to Weaver who wasted the chance with a weak off-balanced shot on the goal. Crystal Dunn is denied in the 81’ and her shot is cleared out for a throw-in. A minute later the Wave make a substitution bringing on Kelsey Turnbow for Sofia Jakobsson. The center is letting the players play in the final minutes of the match, Sheridan has trouble with the cross played by Dunn and nearly gets beat at the near post. She recovers in time to make the save, and the Thorns fans are making noise trying to will their club to victory. Portland has had a flurry of attacks on the goal in the last few minutes but is still unable to find that last touch to take the lead. The 4th official announces a minimum of 4’ will be added to the half. Smith earns a late-minute corner kick, the kick is taken, and Crystal Dunn finds the loose ball in the box and blasts one into the upper 90 for Portland in the 90’+3’ giving them the 2-1 lead. The fans are on their feet and loud, all eyes are on the center referee right now to see when the final whistle will come. The Wave’s Alex Morgan draws a foul and everyone heads into the box, it’s cleared out by Portland and that’s it. The center blows his whistle at the 90’+8’ mark to end the match, Portland Thorn FC is headed to the nation’s capital. See you in Washington D.C. Portland, San Diego fought hard and came up just short in the end. Both these teams left it all on the line and deserve a huge standing ovation. What an amazing match we just witnessed.