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Scott G Winterton, KSL, File

Utah Royals earn road point with 0-0 draw at Portland

By Sean Walker, | Posted - Jun 21st, 2019 @ 11:43pm

PORTLAND — Back on May 29, 2016, head coach Laura Harvey helped the Seattle Reign hold the Portland Thorns without a goal in a 0-0 draw in a National Women’s Soccer League match at Providence Park in Portland.

It was the last time the Thorns would be held scoreless at home in the regular season for more than three years.

Harvey did it again Friday night.

Nicole Barnhart made three saves, and Utah Royals FC played host Portland to a scoreless draw to earn a point in the standings in front of an announced crowd of 15,581 fans at recently renovated Providence Park.

It was the sixth shutout of the season for Barnhart and Utah, which improved to 5-2-2 and tied with the Washington Spirit atop the NWSL standings with 17 points.

Portland (4-1-4, 16 points) out-shot the Royals 18-7, including six shots from Margaret Purce. Utah held the Thorns to just three shots on target in the first meeting between the two sides in the 2019 campaign.

Perhaps Utah’s best chance of the first half came after Mallory Weber, making her first start in a Royals uniform, drew a yellow card after she was forced down on the edge of Portland’s penalty box. But Lo LaBonta's free-kick attempt sailed wide of the post.

The Royals were under siege through 45 minutes by the hosts, as the Thorns out-shot their visitors at Providence Park, 7-3. Still, Portland could only manage one shot on goal, a diving save by Barnhart that preserved the first-half shutout.

Portland kept Utah without a shot on goal until LaBonta’s shot down the middle of the chute was saved in the 51st minute.

Weber, who came to Utah a month ago after three seasons in Portland, had three chances on goal in the second half. But Thorns goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom did enough to keep all three balls out of the net.

Eckerstrom made four saves on seven shots faced to earn the shutout.

Next up:

Utah returns home Friday, June 28 to face Reign FC. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. MDT at Rio Tinto Stadium.

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