Portland Thorns FC edge Washington Spirit 1-0 on Ellie Carpenter's historic first career NWSL goal
Ellie Carpenter at 18 years and 22 days is now the youngest player to score a goal in NWSL history. (Photo: Anya Button)

Ellie Carpenter, who just turned 18 years old on April 28, made history as the youngest player to score a goal in NWSL history. Saturday night, she scored the only goal for the Portland Thorns in a match against the Washington Spirit. Tobin Heath found the ball on the right side of the attacking third. Heath took the ball into the box, crossed it to a streaking Ana Crnogorcevic. Crnogorcevic laid a slight touch on the ball to find a late streaking Carpenter who got behind Spirit defender Taylor Smith on the left side of the net. Carpenter fired it into a wide open net due to Spirit goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe getting tangled with her defender Rebecca Quinn and Crnogorcevic. Carpenter’s goal was all Portland needed to secure the three points and snap the 5 game winless streak.

There was a playoff like atmosphere the last time these two teams met in Portland. This time Portland would travel to a soaked Maureen Hendricks Field Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, Maryland for the team’s second meeting of the 2018 season. Thorns have not won in over a month. Last win was April 15th against Orlando Pride. Since Portland’s last win, the Thorns have lost two and drew three for a record 0-2-3 in their last five matches. The Washington Spirit have also not won a game in over a month. The last victory for Washington came on March 30 also against the Orlando Pride. Washington have lost three and drew two matches since their last victory going 0-3-2 in the last 5 matches. With Saturday’s 1-0 result, this is the first time since 2013 Washington have been held scoreless in three straight NWSL matches. According to OptaJack, before the match Washington had been scoreless in their last two matches.

The match was evenly played in the first half. Both teams seemed to feel each other out in the opening 10 minutes of the match. Washington held the majority of the position and had the better of the chances early. Portland came on during the mid-point of the half and were patent finding through balls when they were available. Neither team was able to find much rhythm or quality chances due to stifling defenses and good goalkeeping. Washington would get the better of the chances to close out the half. Washington forward Mallory Pugh created chances for fellow forward Ashley Hatch. Hatch was unable to finish her opportunities while Pugh just missed the post on a late free kick just before halftime. Pugh bent a free kick around the Thorns wall just missing the post. Argentinian international Estefania Banini was noticeable throughout the match with her and Pugh working well together. Banini had fired two shots with one shot on goal before being substituted for in the 83rd minute.

Portland Thorn Lindsey Horan (10) and Washington Spirit Mallory Pugh (11) battle for the ball (Photo: PortlandThorns.com)
Portland Thorn Lindsey Horan (10) and Washington Spirit Mallory Pugh (11) battle for the ball. (Photo: PortlandThorns.com)

The rain came down in the second half. Both teams were able to find their rhythms and create chances back and forth. Substitutes from both teams Francisca Ordega, Carpenter, Mallory Eubanks gave some jump in their teams. None more than Ellie Carpenter who came into the match in the 64th minute. Carpenter gave her youth and speed to Portland’s front line. The Australian Westfield Matilda showed why she belongs in the NWSL at the age of 18 scoring in the match’s 68th minute. Portland was able to hold off a late push by Washington. With the win, Portland moved back into playoff position while Washington will try to find a way to end the three game scoreless drought.

Next week Washington will first host Sky Blue FC in a mid-week matchup. Then they travel to the Houston Dash for a Sunday afternoon matchup. Portland will host Utah Royals FC on Friday night.

Source: OptaJack on twitter