Thorns fall in opener
The Portland Thorns opened their 2018 National Women's Soccer League season on Saturday with a 1-0 loss to the North Carolina Courage at Cary, North Carolina.
Debinha scored in the 70th minute for the Courage. The goal came from a counterattack chance. Denise O'Sullivan found Debina with space to unleash a perfect shot from 22 yards in front of the goal.
Debinha missed the 2017 NWSL championship match, won 1-0 by Portland over North Carolina, with an injury.
This time, the Thorns were missing a number of key players.
Portland was without Tobin Heath and defender Emily Menges because of injuries and without Hayley Raso, Ellie Carpenter and Andressinha because of international duty.
On defense, Kelli Hubly made her first professional start. Midfielder Midge Purce and forward Ifeoma Onumonu made their Thorns debut, and rookie Elizabeth Ball made her pro debut as a second-half substitute.
The best chances for the Thorns were a Mallory Weber shot that went just wide after a turnover in the 49th minute and a late-game chance for Purce that was tackled away by North Carolina goalkeeper Sabrina D'Angelo.
The Thorns' next game is 5:15 p.m. Saturday, March 31 at Chicago.