Four matches were played on Wednesday in the National Women’s Soccer League in order to bring all teams even on 20 games played. Here is what the playoff picture looks like after these four matches, with Portland clinching a spot in the playoffs and Orlando getting eliminated while the Courage and Angel City remain in close contention.
Orlando Pride 0, North Carolina Courage 3
The Skinny: Welcome to the Debinha show! The Brazilian international had a fantastic match with two goals and one assist in a win that they needed to keep their playoff hopes alive, now only two points off sixth place.
One Key Moment: Not even a swarm of defenders can stop Debinha from getting the ball where she wants it to go. A brilliant assist and the goal that really put this one out of reach for the Pride as it came right on the stroke of halftime.
Inside the Game: Orlando took 16 total shots, but only four were on target, they were poor chances. Meanwhile North Carolina scored three goals with half as many total shots and significantly more possession. In particular Debinha made something out of nothing twice. The first goal, just a couple minutes in, came from an unfortunate deflection backwards by the Orlando defender but Debinha was making the run and kept running, eventually having an easy finish.
Debinha would then score a stunner just under 10 minutes into the second half, a world-class finish from a world-class player.
- North Carolina Courage — Debinha2′
- North Carolina Courage — Tess Boade (Debinha), 45’+1′
- North Carolina Courage — Debinha53′
NJ/NY Gotham FC 0, OL Reign 1
The Skinny: Despite extending their losing streak to a record 11 games, this was a better performance from Gotham. They severely frustrated what is typically a very high powered Reign offense, only allowing a breakthrough on a penalty kick.
One Key Moment: Jess Fishlock and Megan Rapinoe checked into this match in the 56th minute, that’s when everything changed. Less than a minute later Rapinoe slid the ball into the box for Fishlock who was taken down, earning a penalty kick that was then converted by Rapinoe. The only score of the game resulting in a huge three points for the Reign.
Inside the Game: OL Reign were limited to just 11 total shots with only three on target. That is really impressive for the Gotham defense. Offensively they didn’t create much of their own but Midge Purce, now back in the starting lineup, was dangerous for the full 90 minutes.
- OL Reign — Megan Rapinoe (PK), 58′
Portland Thorns 3, Racing Louisville 0
The Skinny: Racing Louisville put up a valiant effort, particularly in the first half, but Portland were not going to be stopped from going top of the standings. Once Sophia Smith scored the floodgates opened, it became a question of how many goals the Thorns would score rather than would they win the match.
One Key Moment: Sophia Smith dealt with a lot of physicality and questionable challenges in the first half so she came out of the locker room at halftime and completely changed the game. As soon as Smith scored it was like a weight was lifted off the home side’s shoulders and they quickly added a couple more, but it all started with Smith. And special mention to the long ball getting Smith in behind the defense from Kelly Hubly.
Inside the Game: In the first half Portland were immensely frustrated by a lack of calls, saves from Katie Lund, and difficulty finishing their chances. The Thorns recorded 16 shots in the first 45 minutes but no goals. Racing had to have field players make two goal line clearances within the first 15 minutes to keep from conceding early. It was an unfruitful attack from Portland.
But in the second half it only took two minutes for the breakthrough and then Sam Coffey added another less than a minute later. Olivia Moultrie added the icing on the cake not long after, showing off Portland’s wealth of attacking talent that can chip in goals.
- Portland Thorns — Sophia Smith (Kelly Hubly), 47′
- Portland Thorns — Sam Coffey (Natalia Kuikka), 48′
- Portland Thorns — Olivia Moultrie56′
Angel City FC 2, Washington Spirit 1
The Skinny: Angel City are still in the thick of the playoff race after this victory, only one point behind Chicago in sixth place. Washington Spirit had dangerous moments but the home team were able to squeak out the win thanks to Simone Charley’s insurance goal.
One Key Moment: This goal turned out to be the crucial game winner and its a beautiful goal at that as Jasmyne Spencer’s cut back to make space for a cross that is perfectly headed in by Simone Charley.
Inside the Game: Both teams created a solid amount of chances, but buoyed by their home crowd, Angel City came out on top. The stats were pretty even across the board and the match was even overall. The home team dominated most of the first half and finally got the opening goal five minutes before halftime from Claire Emslie. It came in a similar manner to their second goal with an outside back in space, in this case Ali Riley played in behind, finding one of their attackers with a cross.
Washington continued to push, hoping to play spoiler, but it just wouldn’t quite fall for them. Finally, very nearly at the end of regulation, Ashley Hatch earned a penalty kick and converted it, bringing the Spirit within one. Less than a minute later Trinity Rodman had a brilliant chance to tie things up but once again things didn’t go Washington’s way.
- Angel City — Claire Emslie (Ali Riley), 39′
- Angel City — Simone Charley (Jasmyne Spencer), 51′
- Washington Spirit — Ashley Hatch (PK), 88′