Sinclair's hat trick leads streaking Thorns
There is a reason why Portland Thorns striker Christine Sinclair is known as one of the best offensive weapons in the world.
After a somewhat lackluster season in which she had scored just four goals, Sinclair was simply unstoppable on Sunday afternoon against the Boston Breakers, scoring a hat trick and leading Portland to a 6-3 victory before an announced crowd of 14,383.
Individually its nice to finally see shots go in the net that earlier in the season wouldve hit the post, Sinclair said. As a team, offensively were really starting to click. Were starting to peak at the right time.
The Thorns trailed three times in the first half, but found three equalizers moments after falling behind.
Midfielder Allie Long tied the score 1-1 on a penalty kick in the 21st minute.
Sinclair tied the match 2-2 in the 36th minute and 3-3 in the 42nd minute.
Sinclair then completed her hat trick and put the Thorns up 4-3 in the 46th minute.
Striker Alex Morgan extended Portlands lead to 5-3 with a goal in the 56th minute.
Substitute striker Jessica McDonald put the match out of reach with a goal in the 88th minute.
It was a good attacking performance, Thorns coach Paul Riley said. It wasnt great defensively.
"They were terrific today in the midfield and upfront.
The Thorns finished with 17 shots and seven balls on frame. The Breakers had 12 shots and put seven shots on goal.
Portland (8-6-5, 29 points) is third in the National Womens Soccer League. The top four clubs make the playoffs.
Sunday's first half was 45 minutes of wild offense.
The Thorns controlled the early part and looked to be the better side. Boston (3-13-3, 11 points) then shocked Portland with a goal in the 14th minute on a defensive breakdown.
The Breakers moved the ball into the final third. On a routine pass in the box, Thorns defender Steph Catley tried to clear it. Instead of sending the ball away, though, Catley made what was in essence a perfect pass to Breakers midfielder Katie Schoepfer on the right side of the 18-yard box. Schopfer had the ball unmarked. She took a touch and sent a low shot to the left corner that put Boston ahead 1-0.
Portland answered with the equalizer on a fantastic display of quality on the ball by striker Alex Morgan and a perfectly executed penalty kick by Long.
Morgan got the ball at midfield and made an incredible run into the box. She dodged three defenders and was taken down from behind by Boston defender Bianca Sierra. Referee Margaret Domka blew the whistle and awarded Portland the PK.
Long sent a low shot to the bottom left corner. Breakers goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher guessed correctly, but the ball was perfectly placed and found the back of the net anyway.
In the 32nd minute, another defensive breakdown cost Portland the lead. Boston midfielder and former Thorn Nikki Washington slipped by Portland defender Emily Menges. She got a pass at the top of the 18-yard box, with only goalkeeper Nadine Angerer to beat. Angerer came out to try to make a challenge as Washington dribbled. Angerer got her boot on the ball, but could not clear it. The ball bounced up, and Washington followed it. She was able to tap the ball into the open net to put Boston up 2-1.
Moments late, Portland moved the ball into the box, and Long sent a pass to Veronica Boquete. The Thorns midfielder put on a gorgeous display of dribbling, weaving around two defenders, before sending a pass to Sinclair, 12 yards from goal. With defenders closing around her, Sinclair sent the equalizer inside the left post.
Portland got extremely unlucky and conceded a penalty kick in the 39th minute. Boston midfielder Lianne Sanderson took the ball to the top of the 18-yard box and fired. Thorns defender Rachel Buehler was in good position to defend the shot. With the ball coming at her face, Buehler turned to try to protect herself. As she turned, her left arm came up and was struck by the shot.
Domka blew the whistle for the handball in the box. Heather OReilly lined up for the PK. She sent the ball to the bottom right corner. Angerer guessed correctly, but could not stop the shot from going in, and the Breakers had a 3-2 lead.
We gave them four chances, and they put away three, Riley said, of the Breakers' good scoring start.
Sinclair quickly evened the score in the 42nd minute, though. Long passed to Morgan inside the 18-yard box. Morgan got the ball to Sinclair on the left side, and. Sinclair sent her shot to the bottom right corner and into the back of the net to knot the score at 3-3.
In the 46th minute, Sinclair completed her hat trick. Morgan got the ball inside the box. She dribbled for a long moment, keeping possession as two Breakers defenders swarmed her. Morgan then got the ball to Sinclair, inside the 6-yard box.
Sinclair received the pass, turned and sent the ball down the middle of the goal, putting Portland up 4-3.
Morgan made it 5-3 with a low, hard shot.
Allie played me and I turned and I didnt plan on shooting it, Morgan said. But I saw an opening. Once (my marker) gave me a little bit of space, I just took advantage of it.
McDonald then put the match away with a goal in the 88th minute. From the right side, she took a touch around a defender and scored just inside the left post.
The Thorns will have a midweek match on Wednesday when they travel to play the Washington Spirit. Portland will then play at home on Sunday against the NWLS leaders, the Seattle Reign.
The number one priority from here on out is just to be consistent, Riley said. Well keep working out tails off. The most important is Washington. Theyre right with us. The fitness level is peaking at the right time. The pieces are all there. Hopefully we can make a good run.