Summary List Placement
Pro soccer officially has a young superstar on its hands.
Olivia Moultrie — a 15-year-old wunderkind who waged a legal battle against the National Women’s Soccer League over her eligibility to play at the highest level in the United States — scored her first professional goal when her team needed it most Wednesday night. The teenage midfielder drilled a free kick into the back of the net from well outside the 18-yard box to equalize for her Portland Thorns in the Women’s International Champions Cup semifinal against the Houston Dash.
The 58th-minute goal made Moultrie the youngest scorer in the history of the NWSL.
“My approach was just like ‘Okay, this is the chance. We need to put this away. We need to tie the game up,'” Moultrie said after the game. “… It just gave me all the energy I needed to step up there and put it right in.”
— Women’s International Champions Cup (@iccwomen) August 19, 2021
The Thorns couldn’t break through for a game winner in regulation, but with Moultrie’s help, the home team prevailed 3-1 in penalty kicks. The young star beat the goalie and buried her shot from the penalty spot. In sum, Moultrie had a goal, an assist, and a PK conversion on the night.
“I’m pretty happy with how it went,” she said. “Most of it’s a blur because of the intensity of the game, but the support of all my teammates and the energy we had just allowed us to be our best selves.”
Moultrie, who grew up in Wilsonville, Oregon, has long been seen as the future of her sport in the United States. She committed to UNC at just 11 years old before reneging at age 13 to sign a nine-year endorsement deal with Nike in 2019.
She trained with Portland for the next two seasons and even suited up for the Thorns in preseason games, but NWSL constraints prevented her from playing in a full-time capacity due to her age. Her lawsuit against the league is ongoing, but a temporary restraining order enabled Moultrie to officially sign with Portland this season.
So far, things are going pretty well in the pros for the prodigy — who is newly eligible to receive her learner’s permit in the state of Oregon.
She and her Thorns teammates will take on European powerhouse Olympique Lyonnais in the Women’s International Champions Cup final Saturday at 10 p.m. ET. Fans can tune in to ESPN to watch the action unfold.