WNT Weekend Rewind: Utah Wins First Game in Franchise History

U.S. WNT - Kelley O'Hara
U.S. WNT - Kelley O'Hara

Utah Royals FC won its first game of the season – and in franchise history – on Saturday night thanks to goals from U.S. WNT defender Kelley O’Hara and Canada midfielder Diana Matheson. In one of the most entertaining matches this year, the first 2018 installment of the Pacific Northwest rivalry saw Lindsey Horan and Emily Sonnett score for the Portland Thorns, but it was the visiting Seattle Reign which came out on top in a 3-2 win that saw end-to-end action in the back-and-forth affair.

Portland Thorns vs. Seattle Reign (2-3: Horan, Sonnett; Yanez, Taylor, Atsugi)
The first matchup of the 2018 season between the Portland Thorns and the Seattle Reign lived up to expectations and generated the excitement usually seen when these two Northwest rivals clash. In a back-and-forth affair, Seattle twice took the lead only see Portland equalize both teams – on goals from Emily Sonnettand Lindsey Horan – before Japanese international Rumi Utsugi finally put the Reign ahead for good in the 75th minute.

After Seattle’s Beverly Yanez gave the visitors the advantage in the 36th minute, scoring off a corner kick that seemed to bounce off her shoulder and into the net, the match remained scoreless until the 61st minute. Then four goals were scored in a 14-minute span. After aTobin Heath corner kick bounced inside the six-yard box, Sonnett bundled the ball home amidst a scramble to tie the game.

England international Jodie Taylor then converted a penalty kick in the 64th minute as Seattle again took the lead, but six minutes later Horan,v ia an assist from Meghan Klingenberg, leveled the match with a classic Horan header that looped over goalkeeper Michelle Betos. Five minutes later Utsugi scored off a short corner kick play for the game-winner.

The match marked a return to Portland for Allie Long, who played her entire NWSL career for the Thorns before being traded to the Reign this past offseason. Long had two excellent chances to score while attacking the goal in front of the famed Portland fan section.

Sky Blue FC vs. Houston Dash (2-3: Johnson (2); Prince, Daly, Latsko)
After two losses in their previous two games, the Houston Dash bounced back this weekend and earned its first win of the season, a road victory against Sky Blue FC. SBFC forward and Mexico international Katie Johnson brought her team back into the game twice, scoring game-tying goals in the 57th and 73rd minutes, but it wasn’t enough as Houston’s Veronica Latsko tallied the game-winner in the 79th.

Utah Royals FC vs. Washington Spirit (2-0: O’Hara, Matheson)
It was a historic day for Utah Royals FC fans as they got to witness their team earn its first win in franchise history. Utah got on the board early via a combination of Amy Rodriguez, who slipped a pass behind the defense to the overlapping Kelley O’Hara, who then bent a shot inside the right post on the dead run for her first goal of 2018. Diana Matheson added an insurance goal for the Royals to blank Washington, 2-0. The Spirit held a 12-10 shot advantage over the 90 minutes, but put just one of those on goal.

North Carolina Courage vs. Chicago Red Stars (1-1: Zerboni; Kerr)
A late game-tying goal from McCall Zerboni kept the unbeaten streak alive for the Courage on Sunday afternoon at WakeMed Soccer Park after Chicago’s Sam Kerr had put the visitors on top early in the game.

The game featured a terrific performance from U.S. WNT and Red Stars goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, who made 12 saves in the match to hold off the Courage who managed to generate a remarkable 42 shots (15 on target). Naeher made a series of spectacular saves throughout the game, allowing her team to leave with one point and remain amongst the top-three in the NWSL standings. The Courage remain in first place with a 5-0-2 record (17 points) while the Red Stars are now at 2-2-4 (10 points) and in third place.

WNT Players in NWSL Action
Goalkeeper Jane Campbell – 90 minutes (Houston Dash)
Defender Abby Dahlkemper – 90 minutes (NC Courage)
Forward Crystal Dunn – 90 minutes (NC Courage)
Forward Ashley Hatch – 90 minutes (Washington Spirit)
Midfielder Tobin Heath – 45 minutes (Portland Thorns)
Midfielder Lindsey Horan – 90 minutes, GOAL (Portland Thorns FC)
Defender Sofia Huerta – 90 minutes (Chicago Red Stars)
Defender Meghan Klingenberg – 90 minutes, ASSIST (Portland Thorns FC)
Midfielder Carli Lloyd – 90 minutes (Sky Blue FC)
Midfielder Allie Long – 90 minutes (Seattle Reign)
Forward Savannah McCaskill – 90 minutes (Sky Blue FC)
Midfielder Samantha Mewis – 62 minutes (NC Courage)
Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher – 90 minutes (Chicago Red Stars)
Forward Mallory Pugh – 90 minutes (Washington Spirit)
Forward Amy Rodriguez – 69 minutes, ASSIST (Utah Royals FC)
Defender Kelley O’Hara – 85 minutes, GOAL (Utah Royals FC)
Defender Becky Sauerbrunn – 90 minutes (Utah Royals FC)
Defender Emily Sonnett – 90 minutes, GOAL (Portland Thorns FC)
Midfielder Andi Sullivan – 90 minutes (Washington Spirit)
Defender Taylor Smith – 90 minutes (Washington Spirit)
Forward Lynn Williams – 90 minutes (NC Courage)

Did Not Play
Midfielder Julie Ertz – Injury [back] (Chicago Red Stars)
Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris – Bye (Orlando Pride)
Midfielder Rose Lavelle – Injury [hamstring] (Washington Spirit)
Forward Alex Morgan – Bye (Orlando Pride)
Forward Megan Rapinoe – Injury [hamstring] (Seattle Reign FC)
Defender Casey Short – Injury [ankle] (Chicago Red Stars)

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