PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – Fresno native Lynn Williams scored twice in overtime and the Western New York Flash beat the Portland Thorns 4-3 on Sunday for a spot in the National Women’s Soccer League championship game.
The Flash will play the Washington Spirit for the league title next Sunday in Houston. The Spirit beat the Chicago Red Stars 2-1 in overtime in the other semifinal Friday night.
Emily Sonnett scored the equalizer for the Thorns in the 78th minute. The Flash led 2-1 at the half after goals from Samantha Mewis and Makenzy Doniak. Christine Sinclair’s goal narrowed it for Portland in the 115th minute
Williams, who won the league’s Golden Boot award for most goals in the regular season, scored in the 98th and 103rd minutes after a 2-2 draw in regulation. Lindsey Horan added a goal for the Thorns in the 115th minute to narrow the gap but Portland couldn’t catch up.
New York coach Paul Riley, who was the Thorns in 2014 and 2015, was ejected in the 40th minute after an interaction with the referees.
After a goal in the 16th minute from Flash midfielder Mewis, an alternate for the U.S national team, and another from Doniak in the 38th, Portland found themselves in a 2-0 hole.
But less than a minute after Doniak’s goal, Sinclair put the Thorns on the board and celebrated with an authoritative first pump.
Sonnett’s equalizer in the 78th minute brought life back to the crowd and sparked some momentum from Portland, which won the inaugural championship in 2013.
Williams, 23, prepped at Bullard High where she was the Fresno Bee’s 2011 Girls Player of the Year as a senior before going on to star at Pepperdine University.
The Thorns finished out the regular season with a four-game winning streak and claimed the NWSL Shield for the team with the best record. They also clinched home-field advantage in the playoffs for the first time.
Portland is the third team in league history to allow an average of less than one goal per game over the course of the regular season and the Flash are just the third team to average at least two goals a game.
Sinclair won the bronze medal at the Olympic with the Canadian national team. The Thorns’ loaded roster also included U.S. Olympians Tobin Heath, Lindsey Horan, Meghan Klingenberg, Allie Long and alternation Emily Sonnett. Amandine Henry played for France in Brazil.