Three goals in six minutes lead the way to a 4-0 win in the Portland Thorns first preseason match Saturday night against the University of Portland’s women’s team. Playing in front of 1582 fans at Merlo Field, the Thorns faced off against a defensive minded Pilots side, but found the breakthrough in the second half courtesy of four unanswered goals.
Midfielder Allie Long opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the 70thth minute after midfielder Mana Shim was brought down in the box. Two goals in two minutes from trialists Kelsey Haycook and Meredith Speck in the 75th and 76th minutes padded the Thorns advantage before midfielder Kendall Johnson capped the victory with a strike in the 82nd minute.
Often playing with 11 players in the defensive third, the University of Portland held the Thorns offense scoreless through the first half. Forward Jodie Taylor was the lone striker for the Thorns, playing in front of a packed midfield and at times surrounded by seven or eight Pilot defenders. The best chance of the half came in the 33rd minute when Long crashed a free kick against the crossbar from 35 yards.
Heading into the second half, the Thorns pressed more aggressively, moving Long and Shim further up in the attack. The move paid dividends as the Thorns created several dangerous attacks before Shim earned the penalty which led to the first goal. Long calmly stepped up and slotted the ball low to the keeper’s right.
Following the goal, Haycook and Speck were introduced and immediately made an impact. Haycook lashed in a shot in the 75th minute, just after coming on and Speck slotted home a rebound less than two minutes later after Long had a shot saved.
Homegrown hero Johnson wasn’t to be left out though and moments after striking the crossbar, used quick footwork to make space and bend a shot into the upper right corner to secure the victory in the 82nd minute.
The Thorns blanked the Pilots in every offensive category, keeping the Pilots penned back in their own defensive third for long stretches of play. Defender Kat Williamson marshaled the Thorns defense as captain, quickly closing down any Pilot attack. Finishing with 27 shots and 11 corner kicks, the Thorns forced Pilots goalkeeper Hanna de Haan into 14 saves.