The Angel City Football Club ended the NWSL Challenge Cup in perfect fashion Sunday.
After going winless in its first five games in the preseason tournament, Angel City took advantage of a first-half penalty kick and held on for a 1-0 win over the Portland Thorns at Titan Stadium.
“I think it (the win) will definitely boost that (team’s confidence),” ACFC coach Freya Coombe said. “It’s something that we wanted to go into the (regular) season having a win and it was very much a big part of our team talk today in terms of gathering some momentum.
“I thought that we’ve developed well over the course of the Challenge Cup, but needed to turn that into a win to take us into that regular season game.”
Angel City will kick off its debut regular season Friday at Banc of California Stadium against the North Carolina Courage.
Angel City took the lead into halftime thanks to Christen Press’ 29th minute penalty kick. Defender Vanessa Gilles was pulled down in the box by Portland midfielder Rocky Rodriguez leading to the penalty.
Press stepped up, had Portland goalkeeper Bella Bixby guessing the wrong way and converted.
In the first Challenge Cup meeting between the teams, Portland rolled to a 3-0 win.
Angel City nearly had a second goal moments later, but an offside ruling negated Vanesssa Gilles’ goal.
In the 75th minute, Angel City had another chance off of a corner kick, but Tyler Lussi’s header was cleared off of the line by a Portland defender.
“They had moments when they (Portland) had more of the ball, but I thought we were organized defensively,” Coombe said. “We really limited their chances. Defensively, I thought that was a full 90-minute performance and obviously a clean sheet is huge.
“Offensively, we looked comfortable building out of the back at times, I thought we had variation and created some very good chances.”
Angel City opened the tournament with a 1-1 draw against San Diego Wave FC. It had three games in a week following and lost all three by a combined 10-3. Last week, the club allowed a last-minute goal against OL Reign and lost 2-1.
“I’m proud of all of the effort and the attitudes that we put forth toward a good, all-around performance,” Angel City defender Megan Reid said.
Angel City’s win knocks Portland out of the upcoming Challenge Cup semifinals.