Thorns FC earn 1-1 draw against Western New York Flash
PORTLAND, Ore. Midfielder Meleana Shim scored her second goal of the season and goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc made five saves, including an 84th-minute stop on a penalty kick, as Portland Thorns FC earned a 1-1 draw against the Western New York Flash before a spirited crowd of 13,021 at JELD-WEN Field on Sunday afternoon.
The result sees Thorns FC (8-4-3, 27pts) maintain their second-place standing in the National Women's Soccer League, four points adrift of first-place Sky Blue FC. Portland attempted 20 shots for the second consecutive match and earned its second come-from-behind draw this season.
After making three saves in the opening 30 minutes of a back-and-forth match, LeBlanc got a touch on an off-balance shot from Western New York forward Abby Wambach in the 37th minute, but was unable to make the save as the Flash took a 1-0 lead. Working down the right sideline, Western New York defender Katherine Reynolds played a ball to forward Samantha Kerr 25 yards from goal. The Australian international curled a cross into the middle of the box that bounced once before Wambach, lunging around Thorns FC defender Kathryn Williamson, was able to get her right foot on the ball to lift it over LeBlanc.
Just more than 90 seconds later, Thorns FC found the equalizer off Shim's left foot in the 38th minute. Midfielder Christine Sinclair worked down the left side of the field, finding enough space to deliver a pass toward the top of the penalty box. Forward Alex Morgan, who attempted a season-high 10 shots on Sunday, left the pass for Shim to attempt a shot in-stride.
Shim's effort hit off the inside of the right post and into the goal to tie the match at 1-1. The goal was her second of the season after tallying against Seattle Reign FC in a 2-0 win on June 16 at JELD-WEN Field.
Applying consistent offensive pressure throughout the match, Thorns FC tied a season high with 10 shots on goal. Flash rookie goalkeeper Adrianna Franch stopped nine shots, her second-highest total this season for Western New York (6-4-6, 24pts).
Despite Portland's pressure, Western New York earned a chance for the game-winning goal in the 83rd minute when forward Veronica Perez was fouled in the penalty box by Thorns FC midfielder Allie Long. Wambach, who increased her season total to 10 goals earlier in the game, stepped up moments later for the penalty kick.
LeBlanc dove to her left side, guessing the correct direction and parried Wambach's shot onto the left post. Western New York's rebound attempt was high, keeping the match knotted at 1-1. The penalty kick save was LeBlanc's second consecutive save on a penalty kick after she stopped a late penalty kick on June 16 against Seattle Reign FC.
Thorns FC, featuring recently added midfielder Tobin Heath, peppered the Western New York goal in the second half, recording 11 shots (five on goal). Heath finished with three shots (2 on goal) and had a header in the box tipped over the crossbar by Franch in the 80th minute.
Portland attempted four of its five second-half shots on goal in the final 20 minutes of the match as Long saw a close-range effort saved in the 74th minute. Morgan had a pair of shots saved in the 75th and 82nd minutes to go along with Heath's header. The sustained pressure led to a season-high eight corner kicks for Thorns FC.
Thorns FC take to the road in their next match against the Boston Breakers on Sunday, July 21, at Dilboy Stadium in Somerville, Mass.; kickoff is 1 p.m. (Pacific). Following the road game at Boston, Portland closes out its regular-season home schedule with three consecutive games at JELD-WEN Field from July 28-Aug. 4, including nationally televised games on FOX Soccer on July 28 against the Chicago Red Stars and Aug. 4 against FC Kansas City. Tickets for upcoming Thorns FC home games are available at the JELD-WEN Field box office, online at www.portlandthornsfc.com, or by calling 503-553-5555.
- Midfielder Tobin Heath made her NWSL and Thorns FC debut on Sunday, starting and playing 90 minutes.
- Thorns FC registered 20 shots for the second straight match, matching the season-high mark set on July 6 in a 2-0 loss against Boston.
- Portland's 10 shots on goal also matched a season high.
- Forward Alex Morgan set a season high with 10 shots. Morgan has tallied back-to-back, season-high marks in shots after setting the previous season-high of eight shots against Boston on July 6.
- Goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc has saved consecutive penalty kicks (June 16 vs. Seattle; July 14 vs. Western New York). LeBlanc leads the NWSL with two penalty-kick saves.
- LeBlanc's 0.86 goals-against average ranks first in the NWSL.
- The goalkeeper has made five or more saves in three of the last four games for Portland.
- Portland's opponents have been awarded four penalty kicks this year, tied for most in the league with FC Kansas City and Seattle Reign FC.
- Thorns FC snapped a 332-minute scoreless streak with the game-tying goal in the 38th minute.
- Sunday's draw marked the first home draw for Thorns FC during the inaugural NWSL season.
- Thorns FC earned its second come-from-behind draw this season. The team's first point after conceding the opening goal since a 1-1 draw on April 13 against FC Kansas City.
- Sunday's crowd of 13,021 ranks as the third-largest crowd at JELD-WEN Field in 2013.