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In a thrilling NWSL semifinal matchup, NJ/NY Gotham FC secured a dramatic 1-0 victory over the Portland Thorns in extra time, earning their first-ever spot in the NWSL championship game. The match was played at a packed Providence Park in Portland, Oregon, amidst heavy rain.
Unbreakable Gotham FC: Rising star keeper Mandy Haught paired with Gotham FC's resolute defense, led by Ali Krieger, held off the Thorns' attacking threats throughout the match. They effectively contained Sophia Smith, the NWSL's Golden Boot winner, and limited the Thorns' scoring opportunities. Shutting out the highest scoring team in the league is a monumental feat!
Stalemate: This was an incredible match of two evenly matched teams who were very well coached. A long physical battle where neither team gave an inch. This game looked destined for penalties. Considering last season's last place finish, this game proves Gotham belongs here.
As a unit: Considering the large roster turn around, new coach, new tactics, this team was locked in as a unit. They defended as a team. Attacked as a team. Fought as a team. One team on a singular mission. From the starters to the bench. This feels like a team of destiny.
Full Time Deadlock: The regulation game ended in a 0-0 stalemate, with both teams struggling to create clear-cut scoring chances. Most of the game fought in the midfield trenches.
Big Save by Haught: In the 78th minute, Haught made a heroic save to deny Sophia Smith from close range at the top of the box, putting out the fire and preserving Gotham FC's clean sheet. Along side Krieger taking the right angle on a 2v1 forcing the ball into Mandy's path.
Stengel's Game-Winning Goal: The game-winning goal came in extra time, with Katie Stengel scoring a spectacular strike from outside the box in the 107th minute. Stengel's goal sent shockwaves through Providence Park and secured Gotham FC's place in the NWSL championship.
Gotham FC's victory was a testament to their defensive prowess, the depth of their bench, and their ability to capitalize on their limited chances. The Thorns, were held to limited possession in dangerous areas and scoring opportunities, were unable to find the breakthrough, ultimately falling to Gotham FC's resilient defense.
As Gotham FC prepares for their first NWSL championship appearance, the Thorns will be left to rue their missed opportunities and look towards next season for redemption as Gotham for two seasons in a row stood between them and silverware.
Krieger's last stand continues. Faces off against Megan Rapinoe in what should be an electric final.
Sinead Farrelly and Mana Shim exercise some demons. Getting that win in Portland was everything to them.
A roster built to win. When you have Long, Mewis, Farrelly, Stengel, and O'Hara in reserve, you have a roster that is built to win.
Worst to first. In certainly one of the greatest turnaround stories in modern sports.
Return to the pitch of Kristie Mewis. Immediate impact from Kristie. Got the game winning assist and caused many problems for Portland with her progressive passing range in her limited minutes.
The arrival of Mandy Haught. She is ready for the big time at 24 years old. Growing leaps and bounds right before our eyes.
We'll discuss all this and more on our next podcast. Due out soon!