NWSL Playoffs: Shield winner Portland is out in a Flash

Before a record playoff crowd of 20,086 fans at Providence Park, the Western New York Flash stunned the Portland Thorns, 4-3, to advance the NWSL final against the Washington Spirit, a 2-1 winner over the Chicago Red Stars, next Sunday at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston.

Paul Riley returned to Portland, where he coached the Thorns in 2014 and 2015, but was ejected late in the first for arguing with the referee after Christine Sinclair's goal cut the Flash's lead to 2-1. Sam Mewis and Makenzy Doniak had given the Flash a 2-0 advantage.

Emily Sonnett pulled the Thorns even in the 78th minute, but Lynn Williams, who won the Golden Boot as the NWSL's top scorer in 2016, scored two goals in overtime to pull the Flash back ahead 4-2. Two minutes after Williams' second goal, Lindsey Horan reduced the lead to 4-3 but the Thorns could not find an equalizer in the second overtime period.

The Flash was the only NWSL team not represented on the U.S. Olympic team. Mewis was an alternate while defenders Abby Erceg and and Alanna Kennedy represented New Zealand and Australia, respectively.

Thorns started six Olympians: Americans Meghan Klingenberg, Tobin Heath, Allie Long and Horan, Frenchwoman Amandine Henry and Sinclair, who captained Canada to the bronze medal.

For Thorns coach Mark Parsons, it marked the third year in a row he lost in the NWSL semifinals.

"Credit to Western New York they brought their absolute best tonight in a very emotional, fast and exciting game," said Parsons, who replaced Riley as the Portland coach after taking Washington to the playoffs in 2014 and 2015. "They deserved to be in this playoff, they deserve to be moving on because when you are at your very best I think you put yourself in the place to win a game. I thought we started very strong and it was a crazy game, some crazy things went on."

Oct. 2 in Portland, Ore.
Portland 3 WNY Flash 4 (OT). Sinclair (Reynolds) 39, Sonnett 78, Horan (Brynjarsdottir) 106+; Mewis 16, Doniak (McDonald) 38, Williams 98, Williams (Mewis) 104.
Portland -- Betos; Klingenberg, Menges, Sonnett, Reynolds (Raso 105), Heath, Henry, Horan, Long, Sinclair, Nadim (Brynjarsdottir 71).
WNY Flash -- D'Angelo; Dahlkemper, Erceg, Hinkle, Kennedy, Eddy, Mewis, Zerboni (Hamilton 96), Williams, McDonald (Hahn 116), Doniak (Smith 69).
Att.: 20,086

The third time was a charm for Washington, which advanced to the NWSL final for the first time when it outlasted Chicago in overtime.

Nigerian Francisca Ordega scored the winner in the 111th minute, but the goal was set up by Christine Nairn, who played a one-two with Canadian Diana Matheson to break free and feed Ordega at the far post.

For the Red Stars, it was their second straight semifinal exit.

Sept. 30 in Boyds, Md.
Washington 2 Chicago 1 (OT). Goals: Krieger (Zadorsky 36), Ordega (Nairn) 111; Press (Short) 81.
Washington -- Wys, Church, Dydasco, Krieger, Zadorsky, Huster, Nairn, Banini (Stengel 89), Lohman (Matheson 71), Dunn, Ordega (Oyster 115)
Chicago -- Naeher, Gilliland, Johnson, Johnston, Short, Colaprico, DiBernardo, Comeau (Da Costa 71; Naughton 117), Huerta, Press, Walls (McCaffrey 66).
Att.: 4,249.

1 comment about "NWSL Playoffs: Shield winner Portland is out in a Flash".
  1. Karl Schreiber, October 3, 2016 at 6:09 p.m.

    I am waiting anxiously for comments by the experts. I found both teams exhibited tremendous fighting spirit, especially Portland. Amazing - the attendance! From a technical and tactical point of view, however, this game was extremely disappointing, somewhat reminiscent of poorly coached college or high school matches MANY years ago. With all those national team players from the US and other nations I had expected much better. Or was it because I had just watched the marvelous Spanish National Team in the U 17 Women's World Cup?

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