For the first time in the history of the league, bitter rivals Portland Thorns and Seattle Reign met in the NWSL semifinals.
Fighting for a spot in the 2018 NWSL Championship, both teams feature prominent Aussie footballers. Here’s how they did in this crucial matchup:
For the second week in a row, Seattle travelled to Providence Park in Portland in front of 14,179 rowdy supporters. Seattle goalkeeper Lydia Williams and defender Steph Catley were intricate in keeping the score line close throughout the match.
In the eighth minute, Williams made a diving stop, keeping Canadian international Christine Sinclair from scoring. Soon after that, Catley took a corner kick, crafting a short ball into her midfielders. However, Portland scrambled to clear the ball out of Seattle territory. As the play moved down to the other end, Williams made three exceptional saves in rapid concession to keep Portland off the board.
Caitlin Foord made her ninth appearance for Portland, starting as the lone striker up top. Defender Ellie Carpenter started the match, marking Seattle midfielder Megan Rapinoe for most of the game.
Down 0-1 right before halftime, Foord orchestrated the equalizer that resulted in a Tobin Heath strike past an outstretched Williams. Carpenter found herself on offence, speeding up the flank a few times. At one point, the youngster took a forceful shot on goal, which sailed over the crossbar.
In the 77th minute, with the game tied 1-1, Lindsay Horan took a shot on goal where Williams was poised to make the save. Unfortunately for the Seattle goalkeeper, the ball hit the post and took a generous bounce across the goal and dribbled into the net. Portland came away with the 2-1 win.
Despite being confined to a wheelchair and recovering from a back injury, Portland striker Hayley Raso was on hand for the post-game celebration and looked to be in good spirits.
The other semifinal between Sam Kerr’s Chicago Red Stars and North Carolina will be played on September 18. The winner advances to play Portland in the NWSL Championship, scheduled for September 22 at Providence Park.
Watch the highlights: