The Portland Thorns are championship bound thanks to their 2-1 victory Sunday over the San Diego Wave. With the win, Portland will advance to the championship match for the first time since 2018. The last year the Thorns won the championship match was back in 2017.
It was a cool, but sunny day at Providence Park. However, it was San Diego would open up the game early. At 7:52, ex-Portland Thorn, Alex Morgan, would set up Taylor Kornieck for the first goal of the game. Korniek found the perfect pocket between defenders inside the box, and Morgan’s pass floated right to Kornieck for a header that would give the Wave the lead.
Portland knew they would find an answer quickly. In the next few minutes of action, they would get some quality chances. However, it wouldn’t be until 19:45 when Portland would have their response. First, a corner kick for Portland would be temporarily sent away. Then, Hina Sugita would gather possession and would send a second ball in. That pass would be cleared back towards the opposite side of the box, where Rocky Rodríguez would be. Rodríguez would then control a high bounce and fire a shot toward the far post. Her shot would dip under the crossbar and find the back of the net, tying the game at 1-1.
Rodríguez’s goal would end up being the last one of the half. Some physical play back and forth allowed neither team an edge, and the score halfway through the game would remain tied. The second half saw the stalemate continue. Both teams had some chances, but neither team could make much of their opportunities.
The best chance of the second half came at 77:55. Sophia Smith drew defenders and found Morgan Weaver on a run toward her left post. With a step on her defender, Weaver would take her chance to shoot. However, her shot would hit San Diego goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan right in center mass and the rebound would be corralled.
Late in the match, the Thorns found momentum and had great chances late to capitalize. At 84:18, Sophia Smith falls down making a pass. In the confusion, Portland would make a lofting cross towards the far post. A header from the goal line extended was back on target. However, Sheridan again would get her fingertips on the attempt and get back to the ball in time to shut down any rebound try.
Then, moments later, a crossing pass would find Morgan Weaver inside the box with space. She would drop a pass back toward the center for a bounce shot from Sophia Smith. However, Sheridan would come up with another clutch save.
The series of chances got the crowd back into the game and Portland nearly found a way to take the advantage. At 88:07, a run outside from Natalia Kuikka led to a cross for Morgan Weaver all alone on the doorstep. However, her header would soar over the net and give San Diego a goal kick.
After 90 minutes, the referee signaled to add four minutes of stoppage time. At 2:06 into stoppage time, Portland would earn a corner kick that would change the game. The corner kick would initially be blocked away. However, a header from a defender attempting to clear the ball would be intercepted by Crystal Dunn. Dunn, from the top of the box, would rifle a shot toward the net. Her shot would find the gap between multiple San Diego defenders, and be just out of reach of Seridan’s diving effort. The crowd would erupt into cheers, and the Thorns would hold on to win 2-1 over San Diego.
The Thorns will play against the Kansas City Current in Audi Field for the NWSL Championship on Saturday, Oct. 29 at 5 p.m.