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Portland Thorns: Punish Boston Breakers 6-3

Courtesy Portland Thorns FC Facebook Page

Courtesy Portland Thorns FC Facebook Page

On what turned out to be a perfect summer afternoon on Sunday, the Portland Thorns treated 14,383 fans to a very convincing reverse of their previous meeting, tallying 4 unanswered goals to come away with a 6-3 win against the Boston Breakers in what was the first NWSL match televised by ESPN.

Boston struck first with a 14th minute goal, as Boston’s Katie Schoepfer skipped into the box and converted a deflected cross with a well-placed shot against the run of play that skipped low past Thorn’s keeper, Nadine Angerer.

The Thorns pushed forward, though, showing off a series of passes and combinations orchestrated by the now-familiar machinations of Thorns Vero Boquete that left the Breakers defenders looking like they were standing still. They also managed to recover from some intense pressure that brought Angerer off her line in what has become a heart-stoppingly common situation this season as she completed the diffusion of what would have certainly been a 1v1 situation.

In the 20th minute, it was Vero who combined with Thorns forward, Alex Morgan as she streaked down the middle in search of the first Thorns goal of the match, but she  was brought down hard at the top of the box by Breaker defender, Bianca Sierra.  The referee pointed to the spot, and Thorns midfielder, Allie Long, put the ball away as keeper, Alyssa Naeher dove, just missing the save as it slipped under her glove.  Naeher would stave off a go-ahead goal attempt by Vero in the 32nd minute, with a beautiful punching save against the rocket fired off the leg of the Spanish international.

Angerer would be punished for again coming off her line as she charged toward Breaker midfielder, and former Thorn, Nikki Washington.  Washington managed a poke that pushed the ball up and over Angerer at the top of the box and then followed it into the net as the Thorns stood for a moment looking stunned at the quick turn.

The Thorns fought back yet again 3 minutes later in the 35th minute as Vero pulled the ball back and forth twice at the top of the Boston box and neatly slotted a pass to the feet of surprised Thorns captain, Christine Sinclair, who poked the ball cleanly into the net to pull the Thorns even at 2-2.

Just moments later, a shot fired from the top of the box by Breaker midfielder, Lianne Sanderson, hit Thorns defender, Rachel VanHollebeke giving Boston a PK, and an opportunity to again go 1 up over the Thorns.  Forward Heather O’Reilly calmly stepped to the spot and put the ball into the net low and inside the right post past the outstretched arms of Angerer to do just that.

The Thorns pulled back yet another goal as Allie Long poked a ball out and sidled up the right flank, playing the ball into an open Morgan in the middle of the box.  In what Thorns fans hope will continue to be a lethal combination, Alex pulled up and slotted a pass to Sinclair as she completed her run into the box on the left and again poked the ball into the net.

In the 46th minute, Sinclair completed the first hat-trick in Thorns club history as Morgan ran into the box, pulling the Breaker defense with her and again laying it off to Sinclair who had the easy finish against a now defeated-looking Naeher.

Thorn defender, Steph Catley made a run down the left flank in the 52nd minute, sending a beautiful cross to a waiting Morgan.  This time she decided to keep the ball to herself, dancing past two defenders and firing the ball low and hard into the bottom left of the net.

To add insult to injury, forward Jessica McDonald, who had subbed in for Morgan moments earlier, pulled a pass from midfielder, Angie Kerr in, and cutting back while poking the ball between the defenders legs.  She looked up and put in a shot from what looked like a nearly impossible angle to send in the match’s final tally at the 88th minute.  Jess is now tied in the race for the golden boot with 11 goals on the season.

The Thorns play the Washington Spirit on Wednesday, July 23rd, at 4pm PDT at the Maryland SoccerPlex.

 

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