Goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc made a season-high 10 saves, including five in each half, as Portland Thorns FC battled to a scoreless draw with the Western New York Flash before 7,606 fans at Sahlen's Stadium in Rochester, N.Y., on Saturday.
LeBlanc registered her seventh shutout of the season, coming up with a late save on a long-distance free kick by Flash defender Brittany Taylor in second-half stoppage time.
A Canadian international, LeBlanc also helped keep Western New York forward Abby Wambach in check with saves in the ninth and 59th minutes.
Thorns FC (10-6-5, 35 pts.) are tied on points with both Western New York and Sky Blue FC, who drew 3-3 against the Chicago Red Stars on Saturday. By virtue of a superior goal differential, Western New York remains the second seed in the National Women's Soccer League playoff picture.
Portland is the third-seeded team and Sky Blue FC is fourth. Entering the final week of the regular season, Thorns FC are still in contention for the second seed and the ability to host a home playoff game at JELD-WEN Field.
In order to finish the regular season as the No. 2 seed and host a semifinal round home playoff game, Portland must win at Seattle Reign FC on Saturday, Aug. 17, and hope for a Western New York loss or draw versus Boston and a Sky Blue FC loss or draw against Washington.
Among other playoff scenarios, Thorns FC can also draw against Seattle and still earn the No. 2 seed with a Western New York loss and a Sky Blue FC loss or draw. If Western New York loses and both Portland and Sky Blue FC win, Thorns FC must maintain a greater goal differential in order to stay ahead of Sky Blue FC. If Sky Blue FC and Portland are tied on goal differential, the tiebreaker will move to total goals.
Playing without leading scorer Alex Morgan, who sustained a mild MCL sprain in her left knee against Boston on Wednesday, Thorns FC registered seven shots (3 on goal). All three shots on goal came in the second half, as midfielder Tobin Heath provided two of the team's best scoring chances in the 54th and 72nd minutes.
Midfielder Angie Kerr made her first appearance since July 14 and recorded a team-high three shots. Kerr saw two long-distance attempts miss wide in the opening 20 minutes and a header attempt flash wide of the right post in the 32nd minute. Forward Danielle Foxhoven had perhaps the best scoring chance of the day for Thorns FC in the second minute. Heath played her into the box for an open look on goal, but Foxhoven's close-range attempt was just wide of the right post.
Western New York (9-4-8, 35 pts.) were presented with an excellent scoring opportunity in the 25th minute when miscommunication in the Thorns FC defense led to LeBlanc accidentally picking up a back pass from a Portland defender. The referee whistled for an indirect free kick inside the penalty box. Set up on the left side of the box, Lloyd delivered the free kick over the crossbar.
Thorns FC finish the regular season on the road against Seattle Reign FC on Saturday, Aug. 17, at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, Wash; kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. PST. Fans can watch the match via a live webstream at www.portlandthornsfc.com.
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