Lindsey Horan Scores Game-Winner in NWSL Championship
Portland Thorns FC edged the North Carolina Courage in the 2017 NWSL Championship led by Lindsey Horan who scored the lone goal of the match. Through five years in the NWSL, no Shield winners have ever gone on to win the title. North Carolina finished the regular season in first place, while the Thorns trailed by just two points. The fifth NWSL season concludes with a new champion and a memorable year of women’s soccer.
NWSL Soccer News: Portland Thorns FC were crowned 2017 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) Champions for the second time in franchise history following a 1-0 victory over the North Carolina Courage. The Saturday matchup welcomed 8,124 fans to Orlando City Stadium, which saw Portland redeem their semifinals loss from last year to the WNY Flash. The club relocated to North Carolina during the offseason.
Thorns midfielder Lindsey Horan was named MVP of the match after scoring the game’s lone goal in the 50th minute.
“She’s the best and biggest in enormous games,” said Mark Parsons, Portland Thorns FC head coach. “You think back in the last two years, the semifinal of last year, the person who grabbed that goal to make it 4-3 was Lindsey. Thankful the ball dropped to her and knew it was going to end up in one place. Tight game, maybe the most beautiful ugly game I’ve ever been a part of. Glad we won and that’s over.”
Defender Emily Sonnett served a long free kick from near midfield into the box that wasn’t redirected. The ball bounced to Horan and she struck a volley that goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland could not react to. The free kick came after Courage defender Abby Dahlkemper was called for a handball.
Horan started all 24 games this season, playing all but 35 minutes for the Thorns. She scored four goals and added two assists.
Defensively, the Thorns backline held firm against North Carolina’s scoring trio in Lynn Williams, Ashley Hatch and Jessica McDonald, especially late in the match as the Courage pushed for an equalizer.
“Our defense was incredible,” Horan said. “ I credit our backline so much and the work that we put into this game. Everyone was out there to win and give their 100 percent.”
“It’s something we pride ourselves on and that’s the goal we go into every game: a clean sheet,” said Portland defender Emily Menges. “That’s the best we can do. We did our job. It’s the most important things for us.”
It’s the 12th shutout of the season for Thorns goalkeeper Adrianna Franch, who set a league record with 11 during the regular season. Franch is the first NWSL goalkeeper to play in an NWSL Championship match with two different teams (Western New York in 2013 and Thorns FC in 2017).
Much of the Courage squad on the field won the NWSL Championship last season as part of the Western New York Flash before the franchise relocated to North Carolina in January of this year.
Portland Thorns FC joins FC Kansas City as the only clubs to have won the NWSL Championship twice.
Header Photo Credit: Brad Smith/ISI Photos