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Match Recap: Portland Thorns 0 - 1 OL Reign
The Thorns played OL Reign for the Challenge Cup on Wednesday night and got a narrow loss in the Cascadia Rivalry.
On Wednesday night, the Portland Thorns faced OL Reign at Providence Park in their third game in the UKG NWSL Challenge Cup. The Cascadia Rivalry was played without most of their stars since most of them are already with their national team’s camps for next month’s World Cup. At the end of 90 minutes, the visitors got the three points thanks to Elyse Bennett’s headed goal.
Shelby Hogan started on goal for this game, with Meaghan Nally and Reyna Reyes on defense. Taylor Porter joined Sam Coffey and Olivia Moultrie in the midfield while Izzy D’Aquila, Hannah Betfort and Michele Vasconcelos started up top.
In the first half, both teams suffered from unforced errors and giveaways. It was good to see Portland pressing high as soon as they lost the ball, putting OL Reign in serious trouble more than once.
Unfortunately, by the end of the first half, Portland only had three shots total and only one of them went on goal. Who made the shots? Olivia Moultrie fired all of them.
The second half started with Moultrie having another good shot but goalkeeper Laurel Ivory didn’t want to spoil OL Reign’s clean sheets in the Challenge Cup and made a good save.
Nonetheless, the score did change minutes later when Elyse Bennett headed a ball home thanks to Alyssa Malonson's fantastic assist (55’). Despite Meghan Klingenberg marking on her, she beat her and got to the end of that ball.
After the goal, coach Mike Norris started to move the bench. Natalia Kuikka came on for Betfort and Natalie Beckman replaced Vasconcelos. After that, the Thorns created some chances. Klingenberg sent a service to the box and D’Aquila got to head it but it went wide. A similar chance came minutes later only this time it was Sam Coffey the one sending the ball in.
More substitutions came on the 77’ with Gabby Provenzano and Tegan McGrady coming on for Porter and Klingenberg. It was good to see those two players on the field since they’re two of the Thorns with the least amount of minutes so far.
Moultrie ended up being the player with the most shots among the Thorns, with three on target and one off target. And as a matter of fact, she had a good chance in the dying minutes of the game. If it wouldn’t have been for Ivory, who made a great save again, the Thorns would’ve gotten at least one point out of this match.
Immediately after that, Portland had a corner. Coffey sent the ball passed the far post where Nally got to head it but Ivory was well-positioned and got that ball easily.
The whistle for full time blew, and despite the late chances the Thorns fell 1-0.
This was a lackluster Cascadia Rivalry not only due to the lack of stars on both teams, but it was noticeable that some of the players on the field were a little rusty due to their lack of minutes and therefore couldn’t make an impact on this game.
Hopefully, they will gel soon and put in a better performance in the following games. Portland definitely did a better job in the second half than in the first, where they looked very sterile. Props to Olivia Moultrie for showing leadership on the field that goes beyond her years and also a big shout out to Sam Coffey, who’s definitely proving she can be Portland’s captain in the absence of the big names.
Too bad that with this result, the Thorns have two losses and one win in the Challenge Cup which means they’re third in their group table after the Reign and Angel City. They have three more games they need to win if they want to go into the next round to have a chance to win the big money prize that is on the horizon.
Portland will be back on the field next Saturday when they play Kansas City at Providence Park. The match is set to kick off at 7 PM PT.