Westfield Matildas Caitlin Foord and Ellie Carpenter have earned a home final in the NWSL after their Portland Thorns beat Seattle Reign 3-1 in the final round of the regular season on Saturday afternoon (AEST).
Needing a win to leapfrog the Reign – who had Lydia Williams and Steph Catley in their starting side – into second spot on the NWSL ladder, the Thorns got the job done in front of a sellout crowd of more than 21,000 at Providence Park.
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It means the two teams will meet again at the same venue next weekend for a spot in the NWSL Grand Final.
The Thorns are without Westfield Matildas attacker Hayley Raso for the rest of the season with a back injury but both Foord and Carpenter started against Seattle.
But it was the visitors who made the ideal start, with Jess Fishlock’s rasping drive from outside the box giving Reign the lead inside four minutes.
Williams had to be alert to spare the blushes of Catley midway through the first half, getting down low to keep the ball out after the Westfield Matildas defender almost diverted a cross into her own net.
The Thorns were applying the pressure and it was another Aussie who almost levelled the scores soon after.
Carpenter’s driving run from inside her own half ended inside Seattle’s box, with her shot rattling onto the crossbar.
The home side did eventually equalise before the break with courtesy of a Lindsey Horan rocket.
Tobin Heath gave Portland the lead early in the second half, pouncing on a loose pass and firing off an unstoppable shot before Horan made the result safe with her second of the night.
While Williams did well to keep out an effort by Foord, the ensuing corner was met by a powerful header from Horan which gave the Aussie shot-stopper no chance.
It was Horan’s 13th goal of the season to sit second on the golden boot standings behind Sam Kerr (15).
The last three matches of the NWSL regular season will be played on Sunday (AEST).