Portland Thorns FC coach Paul Riley said he wants a team that “will be moving forward.”
The Thorns started out Friday night’s match moving forward at about Warp 8, scoring twice in the first seven minutes, and rarely decelerated in a 10-0 win over the Arizona Wildcats in an exhibition before 1,774 at Kino Sports Complex North Stadium.
The National Women’s Soccer League defending champions, who are in Tucson for a weeklong preseason session, managed 29 shots, 20 of them on goal.
“It was obviously good for us to play against somebody else,” said Riley, who’s in his first year as Portland’s coach. “I think you could see that by the players’ reaction they wanted to play against somebody else. I thought they played some great football tonight.
“I was just happy with the overall movement of the ball.”
The Thorns moved the ball into the net four times in the first half, with the opener coming just three minutes into the affair. And to little surprise, the first ball to cross the goalline came from Canadian scoring legend Christine Sinclair. The 30-year-old, who tied for the team lead with eight goals last season, beat her defender and slotted the ball along the ground and to the right of Arizona goalkeeper Gabby Kaufman.
Four minutes later, Angie Kerr doubled the lead with a left-footed shot off a ball squared by Allie Long.
Portland had numerous other chances before making it 3-0 when Rachel Van Hollebeke, a longtime U.S. international who played under the name of Rachel Buehler before this season, squeezed a shot past a defender and Kaufman in the 33rd minute.
Jessica McDonald, a 26-year-old Phoenix native, completed the first half scoring with a goal in the 42nd minute.
In the first half alone, Portland had 18 shots, nine of them on goal, while the Wildcats were unable to get a shot off.
But Arizona coach Tony Amato said the Wildcats can learn from such a loss.
“Actually, I think we can take a lot of positives,” Amato said. “Some of the girls showed me how hard they can compete. We’re really defending hard and trying to do the right things. To me, if they can do it against some of the best players in the world, they can take confidence out of that and do that against some of the college teams we play in the fall.”
Jazmin Ponce, who led the Wildcats with 10 goals as a senior last fall, came on after the break to give the UA a spark, but the Portland offense continued its barrage.
The Thorns punctured the Arizona defense for four more goals in the first 13 minutes of the second half. McDonald and Van Hollebeke each added a goal for braces and then Long scored consecutive goals to make it 8-0 after 58 minutes.
The total could have been higher — one Thorns shot smacked the crossbar, another hit the post and Kaufman made a couple of diving saves.
Midfielder Meleana Shim became the fourth Thorns player to score twice in the match when she picked up goals in the 68th and 90th minutes.
Freshman Lexe Selman had the first shot for Arizona when her strike went wide in the 80th minute.
“This is a great way for us to develop early in preseason and take what we’re ideally going to do in the league and work on it,” Thorns defender Nikki Marshall said. “We’re glad to have them play us.”
Portland will wrap up its preseason in Tucson against Arizona State on Sunday at 2 p.m. at the North Stadium.