Washington Spirit Defeat Portland Thorns FC 3-1
The Washington Spirit defeat the Portland Thorns FC 3-1. Photo: www.twitter.com/WashSpirit

The Washington Spirit climb to the top of the NWSL standings after defeating the Portland Thorns FC 3-1 for their third win of the season.

Spirit start off strong and score first

The youthful Spirit team have shown much improvement early this season. Looking for their first win of the season over a team not from New Jersey, they kept the Thorns unusually quiet for a majority of the match. 

Cheyna Matthews had the first real chance of any player to put her name on the stat sheet in the 9th minute when she headed a throw-in from defender Samantha Staab just past the goal.

The Spirit then put together a tremendous passing sequence in the 16th minute. Their defenders strung together a series of passes that ended with Australian left back Amy Harrison playing a through ball to striker Ashley Hatch who managed to slip a shot past Thorns goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom while staying onside.

The Spirit were leading 1-0 when a lightning signal interrupted the match just before halftime.

After a half hour delay, the Spirit nearly stole another goal right away. Thorns midfielder Celeste Boureille sloppily passed the ball to Emily Menges, who was playing in her one hundredth NWSL match. Spirit captain Andi Sullivan was pressuring Menges and caused her to lose the ball. However, Eckerstrom was there to stop Sullivan from scoring her first career goal.

Spirit double lead two minutes into second half

The Spirit scored immediately after the halftime break. Rookie Jordan DiBiasi placed a corner kick into the box crowded with players from both sides. There were at least several players who attempted to get a head on it, but, in the end, the ball deflected off Dagny Brynjarsdottir for an own goal.

Emily Menges made her 100th career appearance for the Thorns in this match. Photo: www.twitter.com/ThornsFC
Emily Menges made her 100th career appearance for the Thorns in this match. Photo: www.twitter.com/ThornsFC

The Spirit continued to press. In the 58th minute, a corner kick from DiBiasi was headed out by Thorns player Angela Salem but only far enough to fall to the feet of the wide opened Meggie Dougherty Howard at the top of the box. She ripped a shot that Eckerstrom had to go full stretch to stop.

Meanwhile, Spirit goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe had little work to do until the 64th minute. Thorns attacker Caitlin Foord played a dangerous cross into the box that Bledsoe punched away but toward another Thorns attacker, Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic. Crnogorcevic headed the ball to Tyler Lussi who spun and took a shot at Bledsoe while having her jersey tugged by Staab.

The Thorns cut the Spirit’s lead in half in the 67th minute via a corner kick from Brazilian midfielder Andressinha. Her ball was cleared by DiBiasi but only as far as Ellie Carpenter who passed it back to Andressinha. Then, Andressinha crossed it into the box. As Crnogorcevic tried to get on the end of it, she collided with Blesdsoe. But she still got control of the ball and was able to pass it to Foord to head into the net while Bledsoe was out of position.

The Thorns' hope of remaining undefeated this season was crushed when DiBiasi magnificently scored directly from a corner kick in the 71st minute.

The Washington Spirit (3-1-1) travel to Chicago next Sunday, and the Portland Thorns FC (2-1-2) travel to New Jersey next Saturday.