Portland Thorns Tie Sky Blue FC 1-1 as Penalties Fall Their Way

USA TODAY Sports

Despite the low scoreline, the Thorns played attacking soccer in their 1-1 draw.

Despite being the better team through 90', the Portland Thorns will be happy to have held onto their single point from their 1-1 draw against Sky Blue FC. Looking much improved from the team that struggled to create chances last weekend against the Houston Dash, the Thorns kept their opponents under pressure for the whole match, taking a big step toward the championship form that is expected of them.

The Thorns gave up their first goal of the NWSL season in the 25' off a Sky Blue corner. SBFC came charging down the pitch on a quick break following on the heels of some significant pressure from the Thorns. A swung in early cross was touched on goal by Sophie Schmidt only to have Angerer make a diving save to push the shot wide. On the ensuing corner Schmidt got off a headed shot that clanged off the post and was left bouncing in front of the goal. Sky Blue's captain Christie Rampone was on hand, however, and was able to knock the ball over the end line to open the scoring.

The goal was book-ended by intense pressure from the Thorns in the first half as they tried to break down the stout Sky Blue defense. Despite two quality chances for Christine Sinclair and Jessica McDonald as well as a number of half-chances in the half, the Thorns were unable to beat Jill Loyden in the SBFC goal, taking the 1-0 scoreline into the half.

The Thorns pulled even in the 75' and once again it was Allie Long who put the ball away. The Thorns broke down the field over and over in the second half, but were shut down by the suffocating Sky Blue defense. Finally, however, the ball caught a lucky bounce for the Thorns, glancing off the hand of a Sky Blue defender in the box, giving the referee no choice but to point to the spot. Allie Long stepped up to the ball confidently and sent Loyden the wrong way as she converted the penalty, pulling the two teams even at 1-1.

The match was not over yet, however, as Sky Blue had one final chance in second half stoppage time. With both sides pressing forward for the winning goal, SBFC sent a corner kick into the Thorns' box. The ball bounced in the scrum and took a deflection off the arm of a Thorn. The referee again had no choice but to point to the spot as Kelley O'Hara stepped up to convert. Miraculously, O'Hara fired her shot wide of the goal, preserving the tie and leaving the Thorns to celebrate a point that they thoroughly earned.

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