Portland Thorns, Washington tangle to spirited draw
Sophia Smith scored another impressive goal Wednesday, May 18, as the Portland Thorns and Washington Spirit played to a 1-1 draw in National Women's Soccer League match in front of 9,876 fans at Providence Park.
The Thorns have one win and two draws to open the regular season for five points. The defending NWSL champion Spirit is 1-1-1.
Smith put Portland ahead in the 57th minute. Natalia Kuikka sent a ball to Smith up the right sideline. Smith dribbled into the box and created just enough space around defender Sam Staab to take a right-footed shot from an angle that found the left side of the net.
Washington tied it six minutes later, ending a streak of 427 scoreless minutes for Thorns opponents in NWSL regular-season play — a club record for goalkeeper Bella Bixby. Ashley Hatch scored the goal, leaping just in front of Bixby to head a ball sent in from the right wing by Anna Heilferty. Hatch and Bixby collided on the play, but were both able to continue.
Both teams had chances for a second goal. Washington thought it had one from a corner kick but it was ruled offside.
Bixby tied a career high with six saves, including three big stops with the score at 1-1: two tip saves an Ashley Hatch shots and a strong one-on-one kick save to deny Trinity Rodman.
Portland had chances to break the tie, including a shot for Meghan Klingenberg in the box that went to goalkeeper and an off-balance attempt in front for Morgan Weaver.
Portland's Becky Sauerbrunn started and played the first half. She made a couple of key defensive plays in her first 45 minutes of the season. Portland defender Emily Menges headed a ball clear of the goal mouth in one of the few real dangerous chances for either team in the first half. The game then opened up in the second half with multiple chances for each team.
Thorns' next match — Houston at Portland, 3 p.m. Saturday, May 21 (Twitch.com).
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