Thorns continue winning streak with 2-1 win over Washington

BOYDS, Md. – Forward Alex Morgan and midfielder Nikki Washington each tallied goals and goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc made six saves as Portland Thorns FC earned their third consecutive victory with a 2-1 win against the Washington Spirit on Saturday in front of a sold-out crowd of 5,011 fans at Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, Md.

The win allowed Thorns FC (3-0-1, 10pts) to maintain their position at the top of the National Women’s Soccer League standings, extending the team’s season-opening unbeaten streak to four matches, including two straight wins on the road.

Settling a long pass from defender Nikki Marshall over the top of the Spirit defense in the 12th minute, Morgan controlled the ball trying to find a seam toward the goal and was taken down by Washington defender Domenica Hodak near the upper edge of the penalty box. The Thorns FC forward stepped to the penalty spot, facing fellow U.S. Women’s National Team member Ashlyn Harris in goal, and calmly slotted the ball inside the left post as Harris guessed the wrong direction.

The goal was Morgan’s second of the season and extended the forward’s streak of consecutive matches with at least a point to three after scoring a goal against Seattle Reign FC on April 21 and notching an assist against the Chicago Red Stars on April 27.

Six minutes into the second half, midfielder Nikki Washington provided Thorns FC with a two-goal lead in the 51st minute, converting her first goal of the season. Defensive pressure forced an errant pass by Spirit defender Ali Krieger as the U.S. Women’s National Team defender delivered a pass directly to Washington 20 yards from goal and the Thorns FC midfielder curled a low drive around Harris off the right post and into the net.

The Spirit (0-2-2, 2pts) upped the offensive pressure in the second half, forcing Thorns FC goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc to make five saves during the final 45 minutes. LeBlanc finished the match with a season-high six saves.

The Spirit cut into Portland’s lead in the 87th minute when midfielder Diana Matheson was fouled inside the right edge of the penalty box by second-half substitute defender Jazmyne Avant. The Canadian international converted a right-footed penalty kick past LeBlanc for her league-leading third goal of the season.

Morgan and forward Christine Sinclair each finished with two shots on goal apiece, but it was Morgan who came closest to scoring her second of the match for Thorns FC in the 20th minute. An errant pass from Harris to defender Robyn Gayle allowed Morgan to steal the ball and streak into the penalty box, but her effort struck the right post and went out of bounds as Harris scrambled to regain position.

Portland and Washington finished even on shots, 11-11, as Thorns FC became the league’s first team to win three straight games.

Thorns FC conclude their three-game road trip on Sunday, May 12, against the Chicago Red Stars at Benedictine Sports Complex in Lisle, Ill.; kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. (Pacific). Portland previously defeated the Red Stars 2-0 on April 27 in the first game of the team’s current road swing.