Thorns met by hundreds of fans at airport after title victory

PORTLAND, Ore. - It was a triumphant return for the Portland Thorns.

The team returned to Portland on Sunday after winning the inaugural National Women's Soccer League title Saturday night.

Hundreds of fans, many wearing jerseys and holding signs, lined the inside of the Portland International Airport to greet the team. The crowd chanted and sang while they waited for their champions to arrive.

"They've taught me to never give up and to chase my dreams," said 12-year-old Claire Asato. "Because they got there and I want to get there too."

When the team arrived, fans handed them leis and roses. The players then had to capture the moment on their cellphones.

Young goal keeper Emma Hinson said she learns from Thorns keeper Karina LeBlanc.

"I try to do what she does," said the 15-year-old Hinson. "I've watched her warmups in their games, and I try to do their warmups before my games."

Hinson was a little aprehensive at first, but eventually approached LeBlanc to have their picture taken.

"You gotta believe in yourself. Even if you have a bad goal, just remember, no one goal defines you," LeBlanc told Hinson.

The team announced it will hold a free public championship celebration on Wednesday at Jeld-Wen Field at 12 p.m. Gates will open at 11 a.m.