Weaver’s late winner seals the WICC title for the Thorns

Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

The first half started with both teams looking to build out of the back. They did so with efficiency and urgency and play rarely slowed throughout the half. In the second minute, Olivia Moultrie clipped a ball into space. Madison Pogarch, who was playing as a forward, ran onto it and crossed to Smith at the near post. She was tightly marked and her shot dribbled wide.

Lyon created a chance of their own moments later when Melvine Malard flashed a header wid of Bella Bixby’s goal. The half continued its back and forth nature. Malard had another chance after a Thorns’ giveaway in possession but Bixby was there to stop the shot.

The Thorns had success progressing through Lyon’s midfield and entering the final third. They also counterpressed well and forced Lyon into turnovers in dangerous areas. But this left space for Lyon to exploit in transition.

Signe Bruun fired a header wide after Amel Majri danced past Natalia Kuikka. Then it was Kuikka’s turn to create. She got on the end of a Wendie Renard clearance and launched from distance, forcing Christiane Endler into a diving save.

Meghan Klingenberg found Smith down the channel and Renard shepherded her wide to narrow the shooting angle. Smith got off a shot but Endler saved it easily.

Lyon responded via Majri. She drove past two defenders and shot. Bixby pushed it over the bar. Three minutes later, Danielle van de Donk played an early cross to Majri in the area and she headed it wide.

In the 33rd minute, the Thorns had the ball in the back of the net. Marissa Everett brought down a lofted through ball and squared to Pogarch. The defender-turned-forward finished but the flag was up for offside.

The seven-time UEFA Champions League winners finished the half well. Emily Menges was forced into a dangerous clearance over Bixby’s crossbar and Malard pulled another shot wide of goal.

Portland started the second half well. Mark Parsons subbed on Lindsey Horan and Christen Westphal for Everett and Becky Sauerbrunn. They got on the front foot and pinned Lyon in their own half. Lyon were able to grow into the second half and created the first chance of the half. The Thorns cleared a Lyon corner kick to Amandine Henry. She sent the shot over the bar.

In the 55th minute, Providence Park got to their feet to welcome Crystal Dunn and Olympic gold-medalist Christine Sinclair to the pitch. Sinclair met a Klingenberg corner with her head in the 64th minute but couldn’t steer it on target.

Portland piled on the pressure and Lyon struggled to find outlets throughout the opening stages of the second half. Lyon started to find space as the half progressed.

Horan switched the play to Westphal in the 79th minute. Westphal found Rocky Rodriguez on the top of the box and struck it well but it clanked off the post. Morgan Weaver was introduced in the 83rd minute. Smith flicked a ball through the Lyon defense to the feet of Weaver. She struck it well but it curled over the bar.

In the 87th minute, the Thorns finally converted. Weaver was played in behind and finished from an acute angle to give Portland the lead as Providence Park let out a ferocious roar.

Weaver’s late goal would prove to be the difference and Portland Thorns FC were crowned WICC Champions.

The Thorns are back in action in regular season NWSL play against NJ/NY Gotham FC at Providence Park. Kickoff is schedule for 7:30 p.m. PST on Wednesday, Aug. 25.

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