Thorns Continue Great Play

Last week it was the top team (NC Courage) in the NWSL, and this week it was the bottom (Washington Spirit), but the results were the same: the Thorns came out on top. Now it might not have been exactly how they drew it up this week, but a win is a win, and this one was earned.

Once again, this was a tale of two halves. While the Thorns edged out possession for the first half, they got doubled up on for shots (4-2), and weathered a few Washington rushes. However, as their defense has done so many times this year, they bent but did not break.

The second half started much the same, although, the Thorns looked a bit more focused, and determined. While the defense didn’t necessarily “break” there was a crack. In the 58′ Havana Solaun cleaned up a mess in front of Thorns Keeper Adrianna Franch, and Washington was up 1-0.

While the Thorns haven’t lost every game when they’ve conceded the first goal, they also haven’t come back to win one yet. Normally at this juncture in a season, you’d think that would be a deterrent, but this isn’t that kind of team.

Head Coach Mark Parsons applauded his squad’s mindset after the game saying they were sharper and had more energy in the second half. Despite giving up the first goal of the game, this still remained true. The Thorns were not rattled in the slightest.

Just under four minutes later, after an Emily Sonnett FK into the box, Allie Long’s excellent positioning paid off as she found the back of the net. I’m still not sure what was more impressive, the goal, or the absolute roar of the 18,478 fans in Providence Park? Either way, we had a game at 1-1.

 

With a point secured, and time dwindling down, Parsons went to his bench. The second of those subs, was bringing rookie Tyler Lussi off, and putting on Novi Michigan’s own (my bias showing through here) Mallory Weber. It was great to see Weber get significant time. We were about to see how significant it was.

She didn’t take long to make an impact here. Ashleigh Sykes made a nice run down the right side, as she is prone to do, and made a great cross into the middle. Weber had beat her defender and was right there to chip it in. Again, Providence Park erupted.

Washington wasn’t going down without a fight though. They had three more quality chances before the final whistle, with Franch palming one out of harms way. While she wasn’t able to secure another clean sheet (tied for the league lead with 7), Franch played exceptional once more, especially in crunch time.

We were treated to one more roar from the faithful as the full time whistle blew. Regardless of how people found their way to Providence Park (76 ticket giveaways or not) they came to cheer, and the Thorns rewarded them with their first comeback victory of the season.

So many stories in this one, from the comeback win, to Weber’s first NWSL goal, to the exceptional play of Meghan Klingenberg and Lindsey Horan, to Franch’s six-save performance. However, Katherine Reynolds getting the start after dealing with injuries all season was one that grabbed everyone’s attention.

Parsons described Reynolds as a “warrior,” and mentioned how the squad has really missed her presence out there. Parsons, who coached Reynolds when both were on Washington, said he didn’t want to take her off the field, but knew he couldn’t afford to lose her down the road.

After securing just one win in their previous five matches coming into this one, the Thorns have now won back-to-back games, and are sitting third in the NWSL standings. They’re coming into a much needed break, returning to action on Saturday, August 5th at Providence Park to face the Houston Dash.

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