HERRIMAN, Utah — 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.
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.
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.
Defender Abby Erceg’s header in the 81st minute gave the North Carolina Courage a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Red Stars on Sunday in the National Women’s Soccer League’s Challenge Cup.
The two-time defending NWSL champions have won all three of their games in Utah to sit atop the tournament standings.
Erceg's goal, her seventh in the NWSL, decided a match that was marked by strong goalkeeping on both sides.
Katelyn Rowland started in goal for the Courage for the first time in the tournament, while Stephanie Labbe was available on the bench. Rowland blocked a shot from Kealia Watt in the 21st minute.
Alyssa Naeher, who was in net for the World Cup-winning U.S. national team last summer, had a strong first-half performance for the Red Stars, including a diving save on Sam Mewis' shot from distance in the 19th minute.
The game was a rematch of last season’s league championship, which the Courage won 4-0.
The Courage have also beaten the Portland Thorns and the Washington Spirit in the tournament, which is being played with no fans outside Salt Lake City. The Red Stars dropped their opener to the Spirit, then played to a scoreless draw with the Thorns.