PORTLAND (November 5, 2023) - NJ/NY Gotham FC is heading to the NWSL Championship after taking down the defending champions - the Portland Thorns - in a 1-0 overtime victory on Sunday night at Providence Park. Gotham FC forward Katie Stengel scored in the 107th minute to seal the win and continue the club’s historic season.
Gotham FC settled into the first half by controlling possession 61% to Portland’s 39%. Fifteen minutes into the match, Gotham FC opened up its attacking opportunities, as forward Lynn Williams dribbled into the box from the left flank and found defender Jenna Nighswonger. The rookie sensation took a left footed shot that was saved by the goalkeeper.
In the 30th minute, forward Midge Purce served in a corner kick that found Williams for a header, but she redirected the ball over goal. Moments later, midfielder Delanie Sheehan gained possession near the box and chipped the ball over Portland’s backline to forward Esther Gonzalez, but the forward and Portland’s goalkeeper collided with the ball going out for a goal kick.
The club finished the half outshooting Portland six to three. Additionally, Nighswonger, a Rookie of the Year presented by Ally finalist, tied the club record for shots in a single playoff game with three in just the first half of the match.
Gotham FC continued to push forward in the opening minutes of the second half. In the 49th minute, Purce drove across the field and played in Esther who settled the ball out of the air and tried to curl the shot to the back post, but the goalkeeper saved the shot.
Goalkeeper Mandy Haught was called into action in the 79th minute to help keep Portland scoreless. Portland Thorns forwards Crystal Dunn and Sophia Smith broke away on a counter attack. Dunn played a leading ball to Smith, but Haught anticipated the pass and smothered the ball at Smith’s feet.
Regulation ended scoreless. For the first time in club history, Gotham FC went into overtime in a playoff match.
Then, in the 107th minute, Gotham FC broke through with the game-winning goal. After the ball popped up in the air, midfielder Kristie Mewis brought the ball down and found forward Katie Stengel at the top of the box. Stengel took a few touches away from goal and fired a shot. The ball went past the goalkeeper and finished in the top corner of the goal to seal the game.
Gotham FC will face OL Reign in the NWSL Championship in San Diego on Saturday, Nov. 11 at 8 p.m. ET.
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