Curse of the Shield: Portland defeats North Carolina to win NWSL championship

For the fifth year in a row, the NWSL regular-season champion failed to win the league title.

The Portland Thorns captured the 2017 championship when they defeated the North Carolina Courage, 1-0, on Lindsey Horan's goal. The final drew 8,124 fans in Orlando, Florida.

NWSL League (Shield) winners:
2013 Portland (WNY Flash)
2014 FC Kansas City (Seattle)
2015 FC Kansas City (Seattle)
2016 WNY Flash (Portland)
2017 Portland (North Carolina)

Goal. Portland defender Emily Sonnett played a free kick into the area that was allowed to bounce. Lindsey Horan fired a shot past North Carolina goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland from short range for the winner.

Turning point. The Courage lost two players with injuries in the first half when outside Taylor Smith has to leave with a shoulder injury and Kristen Hamilton suffered a knee injury.

Farewell. Two of the Thorns' international stars played their last game in MLS. Dane Nadia Nadim will join Manchester City, while Frenchwoman Amandine Henry will return to Lyon.

Portland Thorns head coach Mark Parsons: "We knew it was going to be really hard to get into the game and get rhythm. I thought they did a great job of pressing us, pressing our backline and pressing the center mids. And when the opportunities came, and there wasn't many of them, we put the ball in a couple of dangerous areas. What Lindsey all year has continued to grow and she's the best and biggest in enormous games."

NC Courage head coach Paul Riley. “I’m obviously disappointed. I thought we played a brilliant game overall. Obviously two early substitutions changed the formation a little bit, but I give a lot of credit to our players who hung in there, outplayed them. I thought we were the better team overall.”

Oct. 15 in Orlando
Portland 1 NC Courage 0. Goal: Horan (Sonnett, 50).
NC Courage -- Rowland; Hinkle, Erceg, Dahlkemper, Smith (Doniak 12); O’Sullivan (Ochs 86), Mewis, Zerboni, Hamilton (McDonald, 39); Williams, Hatch.
Portland -- Franch; Sonnett, Henry (Long 90+), Klingenberg, Reynolds; Menges, Sykes (Brynjarsdottir, 54); Raso (Nadim 69), Heath, Horan; Sinclair.
Att.: 8,124.

Just part of Thorns owner Merritt Poulson's post-game party tab ...

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