North Carolina Falls in Week 13 Matchup
Week 13 of the 2017 NWSL season comes to a close with matchups between the top four teams highlighting the weekend. North Carolina fell to the Portland Thorns, while Sky Blue FC and the Chicago Red Stars played out a 2-2 thriller in New Jersey.
Portland Thorns FC edged the top-seeded Courage, 1-0, at Providence Park to open the weekend.
After a scoreless first half, the hosts netted the game-winning goal following a failed clearance by the Courage backline. Lindsey Horan collected the ball near the left corner and played Meghan Klingenberg who sent a cross into the penalty area. Hayley Raso rose above her defenders and headed a ball that was tipped by the goalkeeper, bounced off the post and into the net.
North Carolina remains atop the NWSL Standings (9/W-5/L-0/T) despite the road loss, while Portland (6-4-4) sits in fourth place.
Sky Blue FC and Chicago Red Stars played out a 2-2 thriller as the second and third place clubs remain on the heels of North Carolina. In a matchup at Yurcak Field in New Jersey, Sky Blue was led by 2017 standout Samantha Kerr who tied the match in the final minute of regulation.
In the fourth minute, Sky Blue lost possession in the defensive third of the pitch as Chicago forward Christen Press collected the ball and played a lone Sofia Huerta who put the ball low into the back of the net. The Red Stars extended their lead in the 26th minute when Vanessa DiBernardo played a ball over the defense, meeting Press near the six-yard box. Press collected the ball and slotted home a slow roller for the visitors.
Sky Blue FC forward Maya Hayes cut the deficit in the 32nd minute when Kerr sent in a cross that met Taylor Lytle at the back post. Lytle’s header was directed into the ground as Hayes ran onto the ball with her first attempt denied by Chicago goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher. Hayes’ second shot rolled into the net with Naeher off her line.
Kerr once again provided heroics for Sky Blue FC as she netted the game-tying goal in the 90th minute. Sarah Killion sent in a cross from over 40 yards out as the Australian international headed home the equalizer. Kerr sits atop the NWSL standings with 10 goals on the season as well as three assists added to her tally. The 23-year-old won Player of the Month honors for May and June.
Chicago (7-3-4) remains in second place, while Sky Blue (7-6-2) claims the third spot.
Orlando Pride defeated FC Kansas City, 4-1, in front of 6,073 fans at Orlando Stadium. The hosts were led by four goal scorers on the night with Alex Morgan recording her first tally of the 2017 campaign.
The Pride held 51.5% possession to FCKC’s 48.5%, while also recording 11 shots on goal to the visitors’ four. Orlando (5-5-4) sits in sixth place, while FCKC (3-7-4) remains in ninth place.
Poliana Barbosa Medeiros opened the scoring in the 25th minute with the assist credited to Janine Beckie. Houston played a short corner as Beckie sent in a cross that met Medeiros at the near post for the header. Andressa Cavalari Machry extended Houston’s lead eight minutes into the second half off a stellar strike from outside the 18-yard box. Forward Rachel Daly dribbled towards the end line on the right flank as she cut back and played a roller to Machry who struck her shot past Spirit goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe.
Estelle Johnson cut the deficit for Washington in the 76th minute, but the visiting side was unable to find the net a second time in the final minutes.
Houston Dash (5-7-2) sits in seventh place, while Washington Spirit (3-7-3) is at the bottom of the table.
In the final Week 13 matchup, Boston Breakers and Seattle Reign FC played out a 1-1 draw at Memorial Stadium in Washington. Nahomi Kawasumi found the net first off a stunning strike from 25 yards out. Caught in possession, Boston goalkeeper Abby Smith’s attempted clearance fell to Kawasumi who collected and struck home a volley for the match opener.
Boston equalized 11 minutes later when Christen Westphal drilled in a cross from the right flank. Adriana Leon found herself on the receiving end as she first-timed a volley into the net with authority.
Boston Breakers (3-6-5) sit in eighth place, while Seattle Reign (5-3-6) remains in fifth.
Header Photo Credit: Robyn Walsh McNeil/ISI Photos