Ghana's No. 1

Thorns upset Courage in Challenge Cup quarters

Published on: 18 July 2020

HERRIMAN, Utah -- Rookie Morgan Weaver scored in the 68th minute to send the Portland Thorns into the semifinals of the National Women's Soccer League's Challenge Cup with a 1-0 upset victory over the two-time defending league champion North Carolina Courage on Friday.

The win was eighth-seeded Portland's first victory of the tournament, and it came with the team's third-string goalkeeper, Britt Eckerstrom, in goal. The top-seeded Courage had won all four of their Challenge Cup games going into the match.

Eckerstrom had a stunning game, finishing with eight saves.

Weaver took a cross from Raquel Rodriguez and beat Courage goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland, putting North Carolina behind for the first time in the tournament, and the Thorns held on the rest of the way.

It was the first professional goal for Weaver, who was the No. 2 pick in this year's NWSL draft out of Washington State.

Portland was hampered by injuries going into the game. Starting goalkeeper Adrianna Franch hasn't played in the tournament because of a right knee injury. Backup Bella Bixby, who played in the first four games, was ruled out for Friday's game because of a knee injury.

Portland's backup for the game was goalkeeper coach Nadine Angerer, the former German national team standout who was the 2014 FIFA World Player of the Year.

Eckerstrom turned away Debinha's bending shot from distance in the 30th minute, making four saves in the first half. She stopped a dangerous header from Jessica McDonald in the 71st minute. Her biggest moment came when she denied Debinha on a curling free kick in the 79th minute.

Portland's Lindsey Horan started, though she was questionable going into the game because of a hip injury. She left the game at the start of the second half after a hard fall.

There was a scary collision between North Carolina's Lynn Williams and Portland's Katherine Reynolds late in the first half. Reynolds had to be helped off the field, and Williams had a bloody gash on her forehead that had to be bandaged.

Dash advance 3-2 on penalties after 0-0 draw with Utah

Goalkeeper Jane Campbell punched away Vero Boquete's attempt and the Houston Dash advanced to the Challenge Cup semifinals 3-2 on penalties after a scoreless draw Friday night against the Utah Royals.

The fourth-seeded Dash will play Portland on Wednesday morning for a spot in the final of the National Women's Soccer League tournament.

Under tournament rules, the game went straight to a penalty shootout rather than extra periods. The game was just the second in NWSL history to go to penalties after the 2016 league championship game.

Amy Rodriguez opened the shootout for fifth-seeded Utah but hit the crossbar. Campbell emphatically clinched it for the Dash on Boquete's attempt.

The teams also met to open the tournament and played to a 3-3 draw. The teams entered Friday night's match with identical 1-2-1 records.

Boquete had a good chance on a free kick early in the game, but Campbell, who had the sun in her eyes, was able to get a hand on the ball for the save. Nichelle Prince's attempt for Houston late in the first half hit the post.

Houston played with determination to start the second half, but couldn't score. Christine Nairn's free kick in the 82nd minute was just wide after Utah's Rachel Corsi fouled Rachel Daly as she sprinted toward the goal.

U.S. national team defender Kelley O'Hara started for the Royals for the first time in the tournament after returning from an injury. She subbed out at the break.

Utah defender Elizabeth Ball was taken out of the game in the opening half as a precaution with what appeared to be a left leg injury.

The two other quarterfinals are set for Saturday.

Source: espn.co.uk

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