PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN)– Less than 36 hours removed from one of the most thrilling wins in club history, the Portland Thorns were still riding those good vibes on Tuesday.

“Straight on the field, I said, ‘Take this in. You don’t get many moments like that as a team,’” said head coach Rhian Wilkinson of what she told her team after Crystal Dunn’s game-winning goal in stoppage time to lead the Thorns to the NWSL Championship. “It was a storybook game.”

“That’s the biggest crowd I’ve played in front of in Providence Park, and it was absolutely electric,” said goalkeeper and Oregonian Bella Bixby. “It felt like there were 50,000 people there. It made the last month a little bit easier feeling that support on Sunday.”

It’s been a tumultuous year for the Thorns, culminating in the fallout from the Yates Report a few weeks ago. That report included that the Thorns said publicly that former head coach Paul Riley’s contract was simply not renewed. However, he was fired for cause after several instances of sexual misconduct with players.

“They sort of decided to come together as a group,” said Wilkinson of the team’s reaction to the report. “They really just chose the option of instead of this being something that breaks them apart, they chose to come together.”

Portland will certainly need that bond when they take on a Kansas City team in the NWSL championship on Saturday. The two teams tied in their match just over a month ago.

After scoring a goal of their own in the 87th minute of that contest in September, the Thorns then allowed the Current to score in the fourth minute of stoppage time.

“I thought we had a good game against Kansas City the last time we played them, and we tied them 1-1,” said Wilkinson. “That last-minute free kick goal, they’re a team that knows how to score, and they’re dangerous. Why we like the game of soccer is that it doesn’t matter how much possession you have, it doesn’t matter how many shots you have, it matters how many go in the net, and Kansas City has found a way this year.”

Speaking of putting shots in goal, Kansas City features goalkeeper AD Franch, who played for the Thorns for five years before being traded to KC in August of 2021.

“I mean, AD is so good, so I’m like, ‘Okay,’ said Thorns defender Kelli Hubly with a big smile. “I’m excited for her, I’m happy for her, we all love her. I’ve played with her for a bunch of years, but we’ve got to win, so she can still have a good game, and we can still win.”

Wilkinson remains confident that her squad can do just that when her team plays in the NWSL Championship on Saturday at 5 p.m. on KOIN 6.

“It’s not about past games, it’s not about the season, it’s nothing other than Kansas City in the finals, and they’re ready. You can feel it,” she said.