*

upload_article_image

Spirit, Thorns play to 1-all draw in the NWSL Challenge Cup

Sam Staab's header in the 77th minute pulled the Washington Spirit into a 1-1 draw with the Portland Thorns on Sunday night in the National Women's Soccer League's Challenge Cup tournament.

Lindsey Horan's diving header off a free kick from Meghan Klingenberg put the Thorns up 1-0 in the 69th minute. Spirit goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe got a hand on the ball but it bounced into the goal off the crossbar.

Staab scored for the Spirit on a back-heel volley from teammate Ashley Sanchez to tie the game up.

Washington Spirit players celebrate with Sam Staab, who scored a goal against the Portland Thorns during the second half of an NWSL Challenge Cup soccer match at Zions Bank Stadium on Sunday, July 5, 2020, in Herriman, Utah. (AP PhotoRick Bowmer)

Horan nearly gave the Thorns the win in the 88th minute but Bledsoe dove to deflect the shot. Portland is still looking for its first Challenge Cup victory.

The Thorns were without defender Becky Sauerbrunn because of a left hip injury that will keep her out of the rest of the tournament.

Spirit midfielder Rose Lavelle and forward Ashley Hatch were on the bench to start the game but both came in for the second half. Hatch got a shot off in the 61st minute but Thorns goalkeeper Bella Bixby leapt to push it away with one hand.

Portland Thorns midfielder Lindsey Horan, rear, reacts after taking down Washington Spirit midfielder Rose Lavelle during the second half of an NWSL Challenge Cup soccer match at Zions Bank Stadium on Sunday, July 5, 2020, in Herriman, Utah. (AP PhotoRick Bowmer)

The Spirit started rookie forward Averie Collins while the Thorns started rookie forward Morgan Weaver. Both were on the Washington State team that went to the College Cup semifinals last season.

Portland Thorns midfielder Lindsey Horan, left, tackles Washington Spirit midfielder Rose Lavelle during the second half of an NWSL Challenge Cup soccer match at Zions Bank Stadium on Sunday, July 5, 2020, in Herriman, Utah. (AP PhotoRick Bowmer)