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Teenager Olivia Moultrie becomes youngest player in NWSL history in regular-season debut for Portland Thorns

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Portland Thorns FC midfielder Olivia Moultrie made her debut in the National Women’s Soccer League on Saturday. The 15-year-old midfielder, who recently signed a three-year contract with the Thorns after a back-and-forth legal battle with the league, came on in the 83rd minute of a 2-0 win over Racing Louisville FC at Lynn Family Stadium in Kentucky. 

Moultrie surpassed Ellie Carpenter in the record books as the youngest to debut in an NWSL game. Carpenter made her first NWSL appearance at the age of 18 years old, also for the Thorns.

The young up-and-coming talent has been associated with the Thorns since she was 13 and has made appearances with the club in preseason competitions. Moultrie now has her first NWSL minutes as a professional player in the league, but could see more time on the pitch in the near future as Portland deals with the absences of key contributors due to Olympic duties, most notably Crystal Dunn and Lindsey Horan for the United States and Christine Sinclair for Canada.

Before signing a three-year contract with the Thorns, Moultrie played the 2017-18 Academy season with the Beach Futbol Club development academy at the U-18 level where she tallied 18 goals in 27 matches. The 15-year-old also has has experience at the U.S. youth national team level. She recently played in a U-17 women’s national team camp back in February 2020 and made two appearances in two matches against England. She also helped the U.S. advance to the Concacaf U-15 Girls’ Championship in 2018, playing in five matches (three starts) where she scored three goals and recorded an assist.

Moultrie’s debut appearance off the bench came in place for Angela Salem, who’s an experienced club midfielder and veteran of the league. In her postgame comments, Moultrie referred to the in-game sub as a “perfect world” moment.

“Yeah, I mean, honestly, it was perfect world to come on for Ang [Salem],” Moultrie said. “I look up to her so much and really try to learn from all her experience in the league. And, you know, she’s been the most encouraging person on and off the field, and during training — and she’s really helped me prepare myself for this moment.”

NWSL is currently in the Olympic portion of the schedule, with several teams missing key players out on international duty participating in the Tokyo Summer Games, and no break in the regular season schedule. The Thorns with the victory currently sit in second-place with 15 points in the league standings. Portland will host NJ/NY Gotham FC at Providence Park on July 11 on Paramount+.

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