The Portland Thorns will defend their National Women's Soccer League title after Caitlin Foord and Ellie Carpenter helped the 2017 champions to a 2-1 semi-final victory over Seattle Reign.
The Westfield Matildas pair both played 90 minutes as the Thorns came back from a goal down against fellow Aussies Lydia Williams and Steph Catley’s Reign. Hayley Raso returned to the field at the final whistle for the first time since her back injury to greet the hometown crowd.
The visitors took the lead through Jasmine Spencer’s 29th minute goal but Tobin Heath brought the game level on 43 minutes, driving low past Williams to finish a move engineered by Foord.
Lindsey Horan struck the match-winner in the 77th minute to the delight of the 14,179-strong home crowd, not to mention coach Mark Parsons.
“It was a really intense game that was probably going to be settled by one goal, one piece of magic,” said Parsons.
“The first half was tough. The team hung in there and the second half we really started to drive on.”
The Thorn's third Westfield Matilda Hayley Raso returned to Providence Park to a rapturous reception from the home crowd.
The Westfield Matilda fractured her back in a collision during Portland’s 1-0 win agains Washington Spirit in August.
After watching the game from the sidelines, the 23-year-old soaked up the atmosphere from her wheelchair as she joined the celebratory lap of honour.
“It’s incredible to come out here and have [the fans] cheering for us for the full 90 minutes and then to get a little bit of extra love for myself it was great,” said Raso.
Thorns face the winner of North Carolina Courage and Sam Kerr’s Chicago Red Stars on September 22.