The No. 3 Orlando Pride, playing in their second year in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) fell 4-1 to No. 2 Portland Thorns FC on Saturday afternoon at Providence Park, bringing their 2017 season come to a close. The Pride finish the year with a team-best 11-6-7 (40 points) regular season record and reached the postseason for the first time in team history.
“I think it was a game at halftime, we were very much in the game. After a very shaky start, I was really pleased with the way our players responded, and in the second part of the first half, I thought we played really well and got ourselves back in the game. Thought we started the second half well, but the thing we couldn’t do, we found it really difficult, to break down their defense,” Orlando Pride Head Coach Tom Sermanni said. “We are really proud of our players’ effort. I thought 4-1 was an unfair scoreline for the effort and the commitment and the performance of our players today.”
The Pride got off to a slow start, allowing the home side to jump out to a two-goal lead 15 minutes into the match. French international Amandine Henry put Thorns FC up 1-0 in the 12th minute, finishing off a cross from Meghan Klingenberg. Portland struck again three minutes later when Tobin Heath connected with Emily Sonnett on a set piece from the right side.
Midfielder Alanna Kennedy scored the Pride’s lone goal of the game in the 23rd minute. Marta played a quick give-and-go with Chioma Ubogagu off a corner before Marta crossed into the box. Toni Pressley flicked the ball on and Kennedy was waiting on the other end, redirecting it into the back of the net for her fifth goal of the season.
With the Pride pressuring for an equalizer late in the match, Thorns FC caught Orlando in transition for its third goal of the night with Hayley Raso beating Ashlyn Harris on a 71st-minute breakaway.
Christine Sinclair added Portland’s final goal in the 82nd minute.
It was an impressive 2017 for the Pride, who more than doubled their goal total of their inaugural season (20) with 46 goals. Marta, in her first season with the Pride, ends the year as the team’s Golden Boot winner with 13 goals and six assists over 24 matches. Forward Alex Morgan finishes the year with nine goals and four assists.
Forward Jasmyne Spencer, who entered the match as an 81st-minute substitute, made her 100th all-time NWSL appearance across both regular season and postseason matches.
The Thorns will next face the winner of Sunday’s second semifinal between No. 1 North Carolina and No. 4 Chicago Red Stars in the Oct. 14 final at Orlando City Stadium.