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Courage Secure Third Straight Championship Appearance

by Fran Stuchbury
October 21, 2019 - National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) - North Carolina Courage

North Carolina Courage vs. Reign FC in the 2019 NWSL playoffs
North Carolina Courage vs. Reign FC in the 2019 NWSL playoffs
(North Carolina Courage)

The North Carolina Courage scored three goals in extra time to advance to the National Women's Soccer League Championship for the third straight year with a 4-1 victory over Reign FC in front of 7,422 fans at WakeMed Soccer Park Sunday.

"We dominated from the start to the finish. We were good in the second half and overtime as well," said Courage head coach Paul Riley.

The Courage took a 1-0 lead in the 88th minute with a penalty kick goal from Heather O'Reilly due to a hand ball by Reign FC. It was O'Reilly's second goal of the season.

O'Reilly, 34, has played with the Courage since last season and will retire after this year's championship game.

Reign FC tied the game three minutes into stoppage time on an Ifeoma Onumonu goal. Onumonu 25, has played three seasons in the NWSL and is in her first season with Reign FC.

"When you give up a late goal like that, it can affect the psyche of a team," Courage head coach Paul Riley said.

In the 99th minute Debinha scored on a free kick to give the Courage a 2-1 lead. That goal, her ninth, turned out to be the game-winner.

Debinha, 28, is playing in her second season with the North Carolina Courage and plays on the Brazil National Team.

It was also Debinha's birthday. "what a present I am so happy for this," she said, "The team is incredible."

Reign FC gave up an own goal by Lauren Barnes to extend the lead to 3-1.

In the 108th minute the Courage finished the game with a goal by Crystal Dunn, assisted by Samantha Mewis. It was Dunn's eighth goal of the season.

"A ball was cleared out to Sam, and Sam does what she does best," Dunn said. "She won the ball, and I was in open space. I just thought, 'Let me hit low and hard.'"

Dunn, 27, is playing in her second season with the Courage.

The Courage will host the NWSL Championship on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. EST against the Chicago Red Stars on ESPN.

North Carolina has not fared well in their previous meetings against the Red Stars. They played to a 1-1 tie at home on April 13th, a 3-1 loss at Chicago on May 12th and a 2-1 loss at Chicago on July 21st.

They'll have momentum in their favor, however, winning eight of their last nine games.





Images from this story

North Carolina Courage pose for a team photo prior to their playoff game
North Carolina Courage pose for a team photo prior to their playoff game

(Fran Stuchbury)
North Carolina Courage pregame ceremonies prior to their playoff matchup with Reign FC
North Carolina Courage pregame ceremonies prior to their playoff matchup with Reign FC

(Fran Stuchbury)
North Carolina Courage vs. Reign FC in the 2019 NWSL playoffs
North Carolina Courage vs. Reign FC in the 2019 NWSL playoffs


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National Women's Soccer League Stories from October 21, 2019


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