Portland Thorns earn dramatic draw
With young players all over the field, the Portland Thorns persevered Friday, July 1, and earned a dramatic 1-1 draw with Angel City FC in a National Women's Soccer League match at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles. Yazmeen Ryan scored her first regular-season NWSL goal in the final seconds of stoppage time off a cross from Madison Pogarch to earn Portland a point in the standings.
The 96th-minute goal is the latest in Thorns history, besting a 95th-minute tying goal from goalkeeper Michelle Betos in 2015 against FC Kansas City at Providence Park.
Angel City, second minute — Savannah McCaskill converts on the rebound of her own penalty kick after drawing a foul off the ball seconds into the match. Portland goalkeeper Shelby Hogan made the first of her seven saves on the PK.
Thorns, 90+6 — Yazmeen Ryan headed home a cross from the left wing delivered by Madison Pogarch with only seconds remaining in the match.
Big picture — Perhaps the youngest starting lineup in club history pulled out one memorable result. Portland is 4-1-5 for 17 points, second in the NWSL standings after earning a point in its sixth consecutive match.
The Thorns were without 11 players, including six regulars on international duty and goalkeepers Bella Bixby and Abby Smith on the COVID-19 list.
To fight to the end and get rewarded can only boost the confidence of the first- and second-year players who stepped in.
That quick PK — After an unforced giveaway, perhaps a sign of nerves, created a chance for McCaskill to dribble to the penalty area, the Angel City player went down off the ball in what looked to be inadvertent contact from Portland's Kelli Hubly.
A strong first half — Despite falling behind so quickly, Portland created at least three quality scoring chances, did a solid job in possession and in winning the ball back quickly. Ryan didn't get solid contact on a cross from Hina Sugita and just missed with a 30-yard free kick. Hannah Betfort, who started at forward, sent an open header high after Marissa Everett won the ball, drove into the box and delivered a well-placed cross.
Second-half moments — Portland struggled to string together passes as the game grew later. The Thorns only had one scoring chance in the second half other than the goal, a shot from Morgan Weaver off a Olivia Moultrie feed that was blocked by defender Paige Nielsen.
Hogan plays big — The young goalkeeper joined the Thorns in LA after being in Sweden with the U.S. Under-23 team, learned she would play because of COVID absences and made several challenging diving stops to keep the score 1-0.
Late, late show — Pogarch, who came on for Meghan Klingenberg at left back in the 71st minute, spun past an Angel City player at midfield into space up the left flank before delivering a perfect out-swinging cross for Ryan to head home from six yards.
Ryan's reaction — "It's a ball that we practice so I'm glad it worked out. As soon as she got it wide and looked up. I know that it was it was time to make something happen. So, yeah, great ball by Po. I saw it coming and I knew that it was right behind the defender, so I just needed to get it on frame," said Ryan, whose first regular-season career goal is one to remember.
Coach Rhian Wilkinson's reaction — "You did see a bit of nerves in there. You can talk about just being present and showing up, but there's nothing like being in front of a fan base like that and getting your first minutes in the game. And I think it's not almost said enough that when a team comes back in the last minute like that, that attitude, that full commitment to making sure that you don't just let the game get away and you play until that final whistle. It's a huge piece of who this team is — those that are away on international duty, but those that are here — and it's great to see our depth step up like that."
Next Thorns match — Portland at OL Reign, 3 p.m. Sunday, July 10, at Lumen Field in Seattle (Twitch).
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