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Sky Blue FC falters to Portland as Thorns win NWSL Shield

In their season finale Sky Blue FC fell to Portland Thorns FC, 3-1.

Sky Blue FC celebrates after Tasha Kai scores a goal in the 6th minute
Sky Blue FC celebrates after Tasha Kai scores a goal in the 6th minute
Robyn McNeil, ISI Photos

Sky Blue FC (7-8-5, 26 points) hosted Portland Thorns FC (12-3-5, 41 points) on September 25 in their season finale, and fell after an early surge. With the result favoring Portland Thorns FC, the team earned the 2016 NWSL Shield, having the best record in the league.

Although the two teams looked relatively evenly match in their previous meeting this season, both teams were without the majority of their Olympians, and the full force of Portland's national teamers was too much for Sky Blue to handle.

The match started out optimistically for Sky Blue FC, who started out strong in the sixth minute as Tasha Kai took control of a corner kick from Kelley O'Hara. Kai successfully out jumped Portland captain and Canadian-international Christine Sinclair to head the ball into the back of the net, giving the New Jersey an early lead.

Kai's goal would be Sky Blue's lone goal though, as Portland would go on to score three unanswered goals throughout the duration of the match. Portland didn't see their equalizing goal, and the momentum swing in their favor, until the forty-first minute. Tobin Heath, known to be dangerous with her free kicks, proved that to be true Sunday night, perfectly placing the free kick on Allie Long's head, who, despite having her back to the goal, was able to finish to score the equalizing goal.

After halftime, Sky Blue FC tried and failed to regain their advantage in the fifty first minute with a ball that started with Christie Rampone and eventually found Kai, Sam Kerr and Raquel Rodriguez, but Rodriguez's shot was wide of the frame.

The second Portland goal came in the 57th minute, where Nadia Nadim sent in a cross from the left side of the box, placing it right in front of the goal where a diving Lindsey Horan could head it past Sky Blue goalkeeper Caroline Casey, who seemed to be caught off her guard.

Portland's third and final goal came with just minutes left in the game when Long scored her second goal of the night. Hayley Raso, who had just subbed into the game for Christine Sinclair, split two Sky Blue defenders with a through ball to Long, who muscled past a slipping Christie Rampone, turned and rocketed a shot to the near post and just over Casey's reach.

The loss was a disappointing result for Sky Blue and for the Washington Spirit, who saw the second-ranked Thorns move into first and win the 2016 NWSL Shield.

"Obviously, this is not how we envisioned our season ending," Sky Blue FC Head Coach Christy Holly said after the match. "However, this season has been a huge stepping stone for our club and has us moving in the right direction. We are very fortunate that every player on our team is an excellent representative of Sky Blue FC, and we could not be any more excited about next season."

Also worth noting, is that with tonight's game, and the 2016 season in the books, Christie Rampone became the second New Jersey native in the NWSL era to play every minute of the season.

Match Summary

Scoring Summary




Sky Blue FC




Portland Thorns FC




NJ - Tasha Kai (Kelley O'Hara), 6'

POR - Allie Long (Tobin Heath), 41'

POR - Lindsey Horan (Nadia Nadim), 57'

POR - Allie Long (Hayley Raso), 84'

Sky Blue FC Lineup: Caroline Casey; Erica Skroski, Christie Rampone (C), Kristin Grubka, Erin Simon; Sam Kerr, Sarah Killion, Raquel Rodriguez (Nikki Stanton, 75'), Kelley O'Hara; Tasha Kai (Shawna Gordon, 83'), Maya Hayes (Leah Galton, 66')
Subs Not Used: Caroline Stanley, CoCo Goodson, Kim DeCesare, Kelly Conheeney
Head Coach: Christy Holly

Portland Thorns FC Lineup: Michelle Betos; Katherine Reynolds, Emily Sonnett, Emily Menges, Meghan Klingenberg (Kat Williamson, 90+), Allie Long, Amandine Henry, Nadia Nadim (Dagny Brynjarsdottir, 70'), Lindsey Horan, Tobin Heath, Christine Sinclair (C) (Hayley Raso, 83')

Subs Not Used: Adrianna Franch, Celeste Bourellie
Head Coach: Mark Parsons

Misconduct Summary
59'- NJ, Kristin Grubka (Caution)