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Courage Continue Red-Hot Play

by Fran Stuchbury
July 13, 2018 - National Women's Soccer League (NWSL)

Thanks to goals by Debinha and Jessica McDonald, the NWSL North Carolina Courage defeated the Washington Spirit 2-0 at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary on Wednesday evening. The Courage have won all three meetings against the Spirit, with a 4-2 victory at Washington on April 14th and a 1-0 victory at home on May 12th. The Courage improved to 13-1-3 with 42 points on the National Women's Soccer League season, 13 points ahead of second place Seattle Reign FC in the standings.

The attendance was 3,409 for the midweek game.

Courage midfielder Debinha scored in the 12th minute to give North Carolina a 1-0 lead. In the second half forward Jessica McDonald found the back of the net in the 60th minute to put the game away.

"I was disappointed in our play in the first half; it wasn't a 50-50 game at halftime," Courage Paul Riley said of his team's performance. "I told our team to be better and more consistent. In the second half we took grip on the game. We created five or six great chances the second half."

One big factor both teams had to deal with was the heat. When the game started it was 90 degrees with a 95-degree heat index. The NWSL instituted hydration breaks last year for warm weather games, and one was needed in the first half.

North Carolina defender and team captain Abby Erceg said the heat took a lot out of them. On the team scoring in the first half she added, "I think especially in the heat I was saying it was really important we got that goal. If we did not score then it would have been a bit of a fight towards the end. They may have scored another goal and it would have been tough for us. It definitely gave us breathing space."

Courage forward Jessica McDonald said the team picked up the pace in the second half compared to the first half. On the goal she scored: "I just saw Crystal Dunn dribbling up the middle. She got time and space she could take the shot. Lynn Williams was on the other side and I curled out to the other side and she had both of us as options. She ended up playing me on a short pass, I cut inside and took the shot since I had the opportunity to do so and it went in."

The Courage have been dominating this NWSL season, a fact that hasn't gone unnoticed by the rest of the league.

"We definitely have a target on our back," added McDonald, "We are the team to beat. And at the end of the day, it is kind of nice to have that pressure and be able to act on the field in a professional manner the way that we have during this process. It's pretty amazing to see us improve each game."

The Washington Spirit was without one of their better players in Mallory Pugh who has been sidelined with a knee injury she suffered on May 27th against the Houston Dash. Spirit coach Jim Gabarra said Pugh could be back with the team in two weeks.

The Courage will play at Sky Blue FC on Saturday. Their next home game is Sunday, August 5th against the Portland Thorns in a rematch of last season's NWSL Championship.




Images from this story

North Carolina Courage pose for a team photo
North Carolina Courage pose for a team photo

(Fran Stuchbury)
North Carolina Courage pregame
North Carolina Courage pregame

(Fran Stuchbury)
North Carolina Courage vs. the Washington Spirit
North Carolina Courage vs. the Washington Spirit

(Fran Stuchbury)

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National Women's Soccer League Stories from July 13, 2018


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