10/02/2016 8:05 PM
FLASH CLINCH SPOT IN NWSL CHAMPIONSHIP WITH 4-3 WIN OVER PORTLAND
WNY Returns to Title Match for 5th Time in 8 Years
PORTLAND, OR (October 2, 2016) --- The Western New York Flash made the playoffs for the sixth time in the franchise’s eight-year history, and they defeated the Portland Thorns in extra time on Sunday evening to move into their fifth-ever title match. After an exhilarating first 90 minutes, Lynn Williams scored two goals in the first period of extra time to put the visiting side ahead for good en route to a 4-3 win.
Right off the bat, the game was noticeably different from the Flash’s recent matches. Portland took the advantage early on, with shots flying in the early portions of the first frame. Nadia Nadim went in for a shot at the 2’ mark, but a sliding Samantha Mewis cleared it out of bounds. A minute later, former Flash star Christine Sinclair took a shot of her own, but it was easily saved by goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo.
The Flash started to settle in over the next ten minutes, and surprised many by converting on an opportunity in the 16’. Mewis found the ball at her feet after a Jess McDonald throw-in and put it past a diving Michelle Betos. The crowd of over 20,000 at Providence Park fell silent and the Flash seemed to have taken the momentum back as they breathed a sigh of relief.
Portland continued to apply pressure to the Flash’s back line and keeper, but they held steady and did not allow much space for any playmaking. In the 36’, Williams took a pass from Makenzy Doniak that rang off the crossbar, but Doniak put a pass from McDonald into the back of the net just two minutes later. The tally was the rookie’s fourth of the season and came at a crucial time. Nearing the end of the half, Portland picked up their pace and Sinclair scored on a short-range attempt to cut the Flash’s lead to one in the 39’.
Those watching knew that they were in for a ride during the second half of play, based on the events of the first half. To cap it all off, Flash head coach Paul Riley was ejected in the 40’, leaving assistant Scott Vallow with the reigns for the rest of the match.
At the start of the second half, the Flash came out of the locker room firing away and taking plenty of chances. At the 50’ mark, Williams missed on cross from Doniak right in front of the net, which was followed by more opportunities by Mewis and Doniak. Betos stood strong in Portland’s net, keeping the match a one-goal game as best she could.
After finally simmering the Flash’s attack, the Thorns began their own attack. D’Angelo stood strong for the Flash, keeping the ball out of the net with leaping saves and diving stops on numerous corner kicks and throw-ins.
Betos and D’Angelo traded brilliant saves for most of the second half, as the keepers recorded six and nine saves, respectively. D'Angelo's nine saves marked a career-high for the 23-year old Canadian keeper. Numerous golden opportunities were kept out of the net with flashy stops and some help from their respective back lines. After a bit of mayhem in front of D’Angelo in the 77’, Emily Sonnett scored a goal to tie the game at 2. The keepers continued making game-saving stops until the end of regulation and the match was tied at 2 after 90’.
Overtime started by Williams and McDonald trying to find each other in front of the net, just as they have been doing for the majority of the season. Williams fed a cross to McDonald just minutes into extra time, but a jumping Betos broke it up. The NWSL Golden Boot winner put the Flash back on top in the 104’ after Williams found the ball at her feet and threading it through the legs of 3 Portland defenders and past a diving Betos.
On an attempt to even the game once again, Portland’s Lindsey Horan took a shot that ricocheted off of the crossbar in the 100’. Minutes later, Mewis intercepted a throw in and led a beautiful pass up to a streaking Williams. which the forward took a touch on and struck to the back of the net for the 4-2 lead, marking the first four-goal game the Thorns have allowed all year.
Portland rallied once again, with Horan sliding into a kick to knock the ball into the corner of the net to decrease the deficit to 1 in the 105’.
The final whistle blew with the visitors coming away with a memorable win in what will likely be remembered as one of the best games of the 2016 season.
“We felt that if it was a shootout, we’d have a chance,” Flash Head Coach Paul Riley explained. “It was a high-scoring game, which played into our game plan. Lynn [Williams] and Jess [McDonald] up front were very good and caused a lot of problems tonight.”
The Flash will be returning from Portland to the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport at 9:15 AM ET tomorrow morning, October 3. Media and fans are invited to welcome the team off the plane. A training schedule will be available for the media tomorrow.
The Flash will continue their playoff run in Houston, Texas, on Sunday, October 9. The team will face the Washington Spirit at the BBVA Compass Stadium for the 2016 NWSL Championship. Kickoff is slated for 5:00 ET and will be broadcasted on Fox Sports 1.
NWSL Match Report
Match: Portland Thorns FC vs Western New York Flash
Date: October 2, 2016
Venue: Providence Park
Kickoff: 2 p.m. PT
Weather: 57 degrees, cloudy
1 2 ET1 ET2 F
Portland Thorns FC 1 1 1 0 3
Western New York Flash 2 0 2 0 4
WNY – Samantha Mewis 16’
WNY – Makenzy Doniak (Jessica McDonald) ‘38
POR – Christine Sinclair (Katherine Reynolds) 39’
POR – Emily Sonnett 78’
WNY – Lynn Williams 98’
WNY – Lynn Williams (Samantha Mewis) 104’
POR – Lindsey Horan (Dagny Brynjarsdottir) 106+’
Portland Thorns FC: Michelle Betos; Katherine Reynolds (Hayley Raso, 104’), Emily Sonnett, Emily Menges, Meghan Klingenberg; Allie Long, Tobin Heath, Amandine Henry; Nadia Nadim (Dagny Brynjarsdottir, 70’), Lindsey Horan, Christine Sinclair
Western New York Flash: Sabrina D’Angelo; Jaelene Hinkle, Alanna Kennedy, Abby Dahlkemper, Elizabeth Eddy; McCall Zerboni (Kristen Hamilton, 95’), Abby Erceg, Samantha Mewis, Makenzy Doniak (Taylor Smith, 68’); Lynn Williams, Jessica McDonald (Michaela Hahn, 115’).
Stats Summary: POR / WNY
Shots: 17 / 17
Shots on Goal: 12 / 10
Saves: 6 / 9
Corner Kicks: 10 / 5
Fouls: 10 / 16
Offside: 5 / 0
WNY – Alanna Kenney (Yellow) 28’
POR – Dagny Brynjarsdottir (Yellow) 75’
WNY – Abby Dahlkemper (Yellow) 76’
WNY – Elizabeth Eddy (Yellow) 109’
POR – Tobin Heath (Yellow) 114’
WNY – Sabrina D’Angelo (Yellow) 121+’
Referee: Marco Vega
Assistant Referee 1: Amanda Ross
Assistant Referee 2: Ben Wooten
Fourth Official: Farhad Dadkho