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Thorns FC defeat U. of Portland 2-1 in preseason

Allie Long (pictured right, from last year) scored to help lift Portland Thorns FC to a 2-1 preseason win over the University of Portland. (Photo courtesy Ken L. Harriford)

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Portland Thorns may have controlled the 90 minutes Saturday against the University of Portland, but the path to the franchise’s first preseason win wasn’t an entirely smooth one.

A first half goal against the run of play from Pilots forward Amanda Frisbie put the home team up 1-0 at halftime, but second half goals from former Pilot Danielle Foxhoven and midfielder Allie Long eventually gave the Thorns a 2-1 victory.

A capacity crowd of 4,892 at Merlo Field were in attendance for the Thorns’ first public appearance, a game played without the new team’s marquee stars.

Head coach Cindy Parlow Cone’s side was without U.S. internationals Alex Morgan and Rachel Buehler, who left Friday to join their national team ahead of friendlies against Germany and the Netherlands. Canadian internationals Christine Sinclair and Karina LeBlanc left the same day for upcoming friendlies against France and England.

Despite their absence, a Thorns team that is expected to have one of the NWSL’s best attacks played to type. Cone’s team out-shot their hosts 23-6 and dictated play from shortly after the opening whistle.

That long spell of control was interrupted in the 30th minute when a long ball from Pilot center half Lorielle McCluskie met Frisbie making a diagonal run behind the Thorns defense. First round draft pick Kathryn Williamson was unable to prevent the Pilot forward from getting a ball off toward goalkeeper Roxanne Barker, who was able to deflect the ball but only delayed it from bouncing in for the opening goal.

Seven minutes into the second half, a speculative shot from just outside the arc from Thorns’ attacker Jessica Shufelt forced Pilot goalkeeper Nichole Downing to spill a rebound near the edge of the six-yard box. The ensuing chaos forced a clearance off the line before Foxhoven slotted home the equalizer from the left of goal.

In the 73rd minute, McCluskie blocked a shot from Thorns midfielder Nikki Washington, but Long was able to get to the resulting ball and Downing was beaten for the game-winning goal.

The Pilots nearly equalized in the 89th minute when a misread from Thorns’ Brazilian goalkeeping trialist Aline Reis left Micaela Capelle with an open goal. From left of goal, the attacker’s shot went just wide of the near post for the Pilots’ final chance before full time.

Scoring

30′ | 1-0 UP |  Amanda Frisbie (Lorielle McCluskie)
52′ | 1-1 | Danielle Foxhoven (Jessica Shufelt)
73′ | 2-1 PT | Allie Long (Nikki Washington)

Lineups

Portland Thorns (4-4-2): Roxanne Barker (Aline Reis 46′); Jasmine Avant, Kathryn Williamson, Emilee O’Neil, Marian Dougherty; Becky Edwards, Angie Kerr, Allie Long (Amanda Dutra 87′), Nikki Washington; Danielle Foxhoven (Courtney Wetzel 76′), Nicolette Radovic (Jessica Shufelt 46′).

University of Portland (4-4-2): Erin Dees (Nicole Downing 46′); Michelle Cruz, Sara Bindl, Lorielle McCluskie, Haylee DeGroud; Emily Sipple (Devlyn Jeter 39′, Sipple 59′), Rebekah Kurle, Ellen Parker, Noelle LaPrevotte; Amanda Frisbie (Micaela Capelle 59′), Capelle (Kaila Cameli 39′)

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