Marta/Orlando Pride/ISI

The 3 best things from each NWSL match this weekend

It was the weekend before the 2017 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) playoffs and naturally there were records broken, an emotional retirement, and playoff hopes both granted and crushed.

The semifinals are now set with the No. 2 Portland Thorns FC hosting the No. 3 Orlando Pride on Saturday at Providence Park. And the No. 1 North Carolina Courage squaring off with the No. 4 Chicago Red Stars on Sunday in Cary, North Carolina.

Aside from all the excitement ahead, here are the best three things that happened in every game to conclude the 2017 NWSL regular season. Here’s a hint: Samantha Kerr earned her big 1-7.

Portland Thorns FC 3, Chicago Red Stars 1

01. Lucky number 10.

Portland Thorns FC became the first team to clinch 10 wins at home in a single season on Saturday. Portland, currently second in the league standings, defeated the Red Stars in front of a sellout crowd to finish the season 14-5-5 with 47 points.

02. Raso does it before anyone even could blink.

Hayley Raso put her Portland side up 1-0 in just the second-minute of play. Her finish came off a mistake from Red Stars keeper Michele Dalton. Raso read the play and intercepted the pass to put her team out in front early.

03. Welcome home, Tobin!

Portland midfielder Tobin Heath made her home debut on Saturday after being sidelined for most of the season with a back injury. Heath came into the game at halftime along with fellow national team teammate Allie Long and Dagny Brynjarsdottir.

Seattle Reign FC 3, Washington Spirit 2

01. Pugh puts on a show at home.

In the first half, Washington Spirit forward Mallory Pugh put two goals away in just five minutes to give her team the first 45-minute edge. This is the second time Pugh has earned a brace in her professional career.

02. Fishlock says not so fast.

Seattle scored all three goals in the final 20 minutes of the game to earn the three points on the road. Jessica Fishlock earned a second-half brace which was hammered home in her 90th minute game-winner.

03. Bittersweet goodbye to Elli Reed.

Seattle Reign FC defender Elli Reed announced her retirement at the end of the season and closed out her five-year career with Seattle on Saturday. Also, all the feels from head coach Laura Harvey after the match.

Sky Blue FC 4, Boston Breakers 3

01. Sam Kerr earns the big 1-7.

Australian international and Sky Blue FC forward Sam Kerr scored her 17th goal of the season to break the single-season scoring record. Kerr had been on the cusp of making history over her last few appearances, yet finally did it in the final match of the 2017 season for Sky Blue FC.

[More from Excelle Sports: Sam Kerr is the NWSL’s all-time top goal scorer. Now she’s leading Australia against the USWNT.]

02. Dowie does it again!

Boston Breakers forward Natasha Dowie got things going on Saturday earning a brace in just three minutes apart in the 25th and 28th minutes of play. Dowie finished the season with a team-high seven goals.

03. Kelley-to-the-rescue!

Co-captain Kelley O’Hara hammered the game home with an 87th finish to make it 4-3 Sky Blue. O’Hara looked like she came out of absolutely nowhere and tucked the ball away one-time to earn her team a huge three points.

Orlando Pride 3, North Carolina Courage 2

01. Nothing to play for, means EVERYTHING to play for.

On Oct. 8, the Courage will take on the Chicago Red Stars and the Orlando Pride will face Portland Thorns FC in the 2017 NWSL Playoffs. With the first-round set, both the Pride and Courage on paper didn’t have much to play for on Saturday night. But what that really showed was just how good and consistently hungry both sides are. The Pride finished three goals to the Courage’s two for the final regular season victory. Despite the loss, the Courage still hold the top spot in the standings with 49 points. The Pride finish the season with 40 points in third place.

02. Alanna Kennedy = Newest free-kick master.

The Pride bested the top-ranked Courage thanks to Alanna Kennedy’s brilliant free-kick in stoppage time. It was 2-2 in the first minute of stoppage time, and then Orlando earned a free-kick just outside of the penalty box. The free-kick was set up with Marta, Alex Morgan and Kennedy, and no one knew who would be the lucky striker. However, it was Kennedy who stepped up and absolutely buried it past Katelyn Rowland for the game-winner.

03. Marta and Morgan combo at it again.

It really isn’t an Orlando Pride game without either Marta or Morgan scoring, or assisting one another for a goal. So naturally, Saturday wasn’t any different. Marta scored in the 51st minute to make it 2-0 Orlando and earn her 13th goal of the season. Her finish was set up by Morgan, which would be her fourth assist of the season.

FC Kansas City 1, Houston Dash 1

01. Goalie-off!

It was a 1-1 draw at Children’s Mercy Victory Field on Sunday, thanks to top-tier goalkeeping from Houston’s Jane Campbell and Kansas City’s Nicole Barnhart. The two each finished the game with six saves on a total of eight shots from the different sides.

02.With playoffs out of sight, the two sides look ahead.

Kansas City and the Dash did not have a spot in the playoffs to play for on Sunday night, but what they did have was ending their season on a high note and looking forward to next year. Although neither walked away with three-points, it was a valiant effort filled to the brim with scoring chances to leave both teams in a good place ahead of next year.

03. Campbell comes up big ins stoppage time.

Houston’s Campbell had plenty of excitement for the entire match but her biggest test came in the 93rd minute against Brittany Ratcliffe. Campbell made a diving-punch save to keep her team even and finished out her rookie campaign in spider-like fashion.

It’s playoff time!

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