A host of Westfield W-League players have returned to action on Monday (AEST) following the Tournament of Nations, as the National Women’s Soccer League season heats up before the playoffs.
There were crucial wins for the clubs of Lydia Williams and Katrina Gorry, while Emily van Egmond and Alanna Kennedy were involved in a dramatic clash in Orland.
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ORLANDO PRIDE v SKY BLUE FC
The Pride will be kicking themselves after squandering a great chance to consolidate their spot in the top four, held to a 2-2 draw by lowly Sky Blue FC.
In an action-packed encounter, all four goals were scored in the second half, while superstar Carli Lloyd was sent off deep in stoppage-time for a deliberate handball on the goalline.
Orlando took the lead through Brazilian superstar Marta, only for Sky Blue to turn things around before the hour mark through quickfire goals from Imani Dorsey and Shea Groom.
Dani Weatherholt equalised for the home side with 17 minutes left and it appeared the Pride would win the match at the death as Newcastle Jets star Emily van Egmond’s goal-bound header was punched off the line by Lloyd.
The USA international was sent off and Pride were awarded a penalty, only for Marta’s spot-kick to be superbly saved by the keeper.
Both van Egmond and Melbourne City defender Kennedy played full matches for Orlando, who remain in third spot.
HOUSTON DASH v UTAH ROYALS
It was basically win or bust for both the Dash and Royals in Houston, with the visitors coming from behind to win 2-1.
The Dash looked on course for the three points after Veronika Latsko put them in front just before half-time, a lead they held until 13 minutes from time.
But that’s when Utah turned the match, first equalising through Christen Press, before Newcastle Jets striker Katie Stengel grabbed an 83rd-minute winner.
It was heartbreak for Dash duo Clare Polkinghorne –who played the full 90 minutes - and Kyah Simon, with the later coming on at half-time.
Following her exploits with the Westfield Matildas last week, Gorry, who plays for Brisbane Roar in the W-League only lasted 68 minutes for the Royals, who have now leapfrogged Houston into sixth on the ladder and four points outside the playoff places.
NORTH CAROLINA COURAGE v PORTLAND THORNS
The Courage locked-up the 2018 NWSL Shield (Premiership) with their 2-1 win over Portland.
The runaway leaders of the league this season, a Lynn Williams brace secured their 15th win from 20 matches this campaign, opening up a 16-point gap at the top with just five regular season matches left.
Williams’ brace also took her to 10 goals for the season, edging past Sam Kerr at the top of the goal-scoring charts.
Lindsey Horan – who scored against the Westfield Matildas a week ago – halved the deficit after the break but even with Brisbane Roar's Hayley Raso and Sydney FC attacker Caitlin Foord playing valuable minutes, the Thorns couldn’t find an equaliser.
Despite the defeat, Portland remains in fourth spot on the NWSL ladder, one ahead of the Chicago Red Stars who do have a game in hand.
SEATTLE REIGN v WASHINGTON SPIRIT
Seattle looks to have one hand on wrapping up second spot on the ladder after a hard-fought 2-0 win over strugglers Washington.
While Melbourne City left-back Steph Catley missed the match, teammate Lydia Williams was in goal and only had a couple of shots to deal with as the home side dominated the match.
In the end, they had to rely on a goal Jasmyne Spencer right on the stroke of half-time to open the scoring, before Jodie Taylor secured all three points with her goal 19 minutes from the end.
*Teams in bold contain Westfield Matildas players
- North Carolina Courage – played 20, 49 points, +28
- Seattle Reign – played 19, 33 points, +7
- Orlando Pride – played 20, 30 points, +1
- Portland Thorns – played 19, 29 points, +6
- Chicago Red Stars – played 18, 28 points, +4
- Utah Royals – played 19, 25 points, -3
- Houston Dash – played 19, 23 points, -7
- Washington Spirit – played 19, 10 points, -16
- Sky Blue – played 17, 4 points, -20