17 July 2020

Portland Thorns FC knock North Carolina Courage out of NWSL Challenge Cup with 1-0 victory

Portland Thorns FC have caused the first upset of the National Women’s Soccer League Challenge Cup as they have knocked out defending champions North Carolina Courage.

Thorns triumphed in a 1-0 victory in the quarter-final to not only secure a semi-final spot but also their first win of the competition.

Courage looked the stronger team throughout the first half as they came out firing. In the first minute of the match Kristen Hamilton got a shot away and from there they continued to create chances.

Courage’s best of the half came in the 42nd minute as Lynn Williams got a shot in but was just inches wide.

Thorns managed to put some attacking play together but they did not get one shot on target in the first half.

Reynolds was injured during the quarter-final after a collision with Williams (SIPA USA/PA Images)

Late drama came in the half though as Williams and Katherine Reynolds collided. Reynolds was subbed off for Christen Westphal and Williams saw out the rest of the match with a bandage just above her left eye.

Heading into the break the teams were on route for a penalty shoot-out as they were in a 0-0 deadlock.

As the second half began Thorns looked like they were settling into the game.

And while Thorns’ attack began to turn up the heat, their keeper Britt Eckerstrom continued to make phenomenal saves.

All Thorns needed was a strike of attacking brilliance which came in the 67th minute through Morgan Weaver.

She tapped the ball in to give her side the lead from a Rocky Rodriguez pass.

Courage then began to get desperate for an equaliser and their perfect chance to draw came in the 78th minute as Sam Mewis was brought down just outside the box by Angela Salem.

Debinha Miri took the free kick but once again Eckerstrom read it well to keep it out.

Despite many more attempts Courage could not find a goal and were left goalless in an NWSL match for the first time since 2018.

Thorns now head into the semi-finals which will be played next week. They will play the winner of tonight’s other quarter-final between Houston Dash and Utah Royals FC.

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