The Portland Thorns managed to earn their first point in almost three weeks with a much better performance against the Western New York Flash. While defensive issues abounded, the inclusion of Tobin Heath into the lineup freed the attack up to create more scoring chances, something that's been desperately missing over the last few weeks. While it will definitely be nice when the Thorns get back to their winning ways, getting a draw seems like a necessary step forward at this point.
Here's our Woman of the Match:
Jonanna: Karina LeBlanc
Her block of Abby Wambach's PK was one of the most epic moments to ever occur at Jeld-Wen, not only just because she stopped something that historically has proven unstoppable, but because the entire match --and arguably the Thorns' entire season-- was riding on it. Had the Thorns lost that game, they would have dropped to third in the standings and, possibly worse, compounded its downward momentum. KK's five other saves ranged from good to great (there wasn't a damn thing she could have done about Wambach's 37'). In a great goalkeeper battle, LeBlanc never blinked.
Ryan: Karina LeBlanc
Portland's offense improved with the addition of Tobin Heath but the defense was just as shaky and the Thorns needed a big game out of Karina. They got it. On numerous occasions she was called upon to make a save or punch the ball clear. None were bigger than the late PK save against the leading scorer in FIFA history Abby Wambach. You could see how much that stop meant to the team as they all rushed KK and celebrated as if they just won a trophy, it was a possible season changing save as it stopped the bleeding. The save gave Portland an equal share of the points and kept them from dropping out of second place in the standings.
Stacey: Karina LeBlanc
I hope soon we get to see a game or two where LeBlanc isn't required to make a number of heroic saves to keep the Thorns in the game. She was positively stellar on Sunday, particularly when facing and saving Wambach's PK. Wambach doesn't seem like someone who's easily flustered, but it looked like KK managed to psych her out before the kick. Her save was the difference between a result that felt like a step in the right direction and another frustrating loss.
Geoff: Karina LeBlanc
While other players certainly made an impact on the match (Mana Shim for example) LeBlanc's role on this squad simply can't be understated. Her clutch save against Wambach's penalty kick is the exact reason why I consider her to be the best keeper in this league. If she ever gets a defense a solid defensive line in front of her, the Thorns could very well become unstoppable.
Who was your Woman of the Match?