|photo from Gotham FC
Gotham FC have reached their first ever NWSL final after a dramatic extra time win over the Portland Thorns on Sunday night a Providence Park. Katie Stengel scored the game's only goal in the 107th minute, with rain lashing down and both teams battling each other as well as the elements.
Gotham showed their same perseverance as they have all year by forcing their style of play in the first half. The elements played a major factor in the game with passes and bounces on the very wet synthetic pitch, wrecking havoc on both offenses. Still, it didn't keep both teams from putting their best foot forward in an attempt to win the match. Gotham in particular showed their fight with chances from both Midge Purce and Jenna Nighswonger missing the net.
The second half saw Portland push more with Becky Sauerbrunn missing a header in the 71st minute and Olivia Moultrie as well just minutes later. Gotham's star striker Esther Gonzalez was mostly neutralized in the game and came off in the 80th minute after doing her best through injuries and the conditions.
Extra time is where the game finally opened up with Gotham continuing to push forward. Eventually it was substitute Stengel that found the back of the net with an impressive effort form just outside the box the curled into the top corner. From there Gotham held on tight while Portland did well to push forward but created few opportunities.
The win means that Gotham will advance to the final and extend Ali Kreiger's illustrious career to just one more game. Who they will play remains to be seen as San Diego Wave and OL Reign play the second game later in the evening.
Gotham FC: Haught; Santos, Lopez, Kreiger, Nighswonger, Sheehan, Martin, Ryan (112' O'Hara), Williams (120' Edmonds), Gonzalez (80' Mewis), Purce (80' Farrelly)
Portland Thorns: Hogan; Klingenberg (60' Kuikka), Townsend, Sauerbrunn, Reyes, Moultrie, Coffey, Rodriguez, Dunn, Smith, Weaver