Racing Make Club History With Thrilling 2-1 Win Over Portland
Racing Louisville pulled off their most significant regular season victory ever on Saturday, shocking NWSL-leading Portland Thorns 2-1 at Lynn Family Stadium.
Second-half goals from Abby Erceg and a magical shot by Thembi Kgatlana lifted Racing to their first-ever win over the Thorns in six all-time meetings.
The triumph also vaulted Racing into a playoff place (at least temporarily) with five games remaining in the race for the postseason.
“It was at the right time, a huge performance. I haven’t seen us play with that much grit and heart,” said Captain Erceg.
Despite missing several key players (Pickett, DeMelo, Howell, and Baggett ), Racing put Portland under pressure from the opening whistle. Kirsten Davis rattled the woodwork just three minutes in.
The Thorns grabbed the lead against the run of play in the 6th minute through Morgan Weaver’s efforts against Racing Lou Keeper Katie Lund who made a terrible mistake outside her box. Playing the ball with her feet is one area where Lund needs to dramatically improve this off-season. Nonetheless, Louisville persisted and bombarded the Portland goal the whole match.
Erceg rocketed home the equalizer on the hour mark with a thumping header off a Wang Shuang corner. Kgatlana then curled in a sublime winner in the 64th minute set up by Rebecca Holloway.
Racing finished with 26 shots, 10 on target, in a sterling attacking display. Keeper Lund made two huge first-half saves to keep Louisville in it; making up for her earlier missed play.
“It shows the potential that we can beat all the teams in the league,” said coach Kim Björkegren. “We are getting closer to the best teams, and on a good day like this we can beat them.”
The win improved Racing’s home record this campaign to 4-1-4. The team also extended its unbeaten streak to five games, tying a club record.
Despite missing midfield stars Savannah DeMelo and Jaelin Howell, Racing still controlled possession for stretches and created relentless pressure.
Portland keeper Bella Bixby made several outstanding stops to keep it close. But Louisville’s superior energy and determination earned them a landmark result.
“Everyone is desperate for points – the table is so close – so for the girls to show up the way they did today was unbelievable,” Erceg said.
This young Racing squad has made major strides in 2023 under the leadership of Head Coach Kim Björkegren. Beating the league champions in front of another big crowd shows Louisville can now compete with anyone.
The team heads out on a critical two-game road swing sitting in a playoff spot for the first time. With the talent and confidence now evident, Racing is poised to make a charge up the table.
If Louisville can replicate this type of intensity and resilience, more big results are certainly attainable. The team’s steady growth continues in front of the community’s eyes.
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Photo By Fahad Alotaibi