NFL, NBA, NHL stats



Dominant Title Game Performance Crowns Courage NWSL Champs...Again

by Fran Stuchbury
October 28, 2019 - National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) - North Carolina Courage

North Carolina Courage celebrate the National Women's Soccer League championship
North Carolina Courage celebrate the National Women's Soccer League championship
(North Carolina Courage, Credit: Fran Stuchbury)

The North Carolina Courage won its second straight National Women's Soccer League Championship, defeating the Chicago Red Stars 4-0 in front of a record crowd 10,277 fans, the most in WakeMed Soccer Park history.

The Courage have played in four straight championships, winning three of them, dating back to when they won the NWSL Championship as the Western New York Flash in 2016.

"The core group is still here that started in Western New York," North Carolina Courage manager Paul Riley said after the game. "They have just developed really well."

Debinha opened the scoring for the Courage in the fourth minute, the fastest goal in NWSL Championship history.

The 28-year-old Debinha, who earned MVP honors for the game, is in her second season with the Courage and plays on the Brazil National Team.

"I think she was MVP for more than the goal she scored," Riley said. "She's a complete player now. It was all the little things she did for us today."

Jessica MacDonald added the second goal for the Courage in the 28th minute, assisted by Lynn Williams.

McDonald 31, was named MVP in North Carolina's 3-0 victory over the Portland Thorns in the NWSL Championship last season.

In added time at the end of the first half Crystal Dunn scored to give the Courage a commanding 3-0 halftime lead.

"Even when we were up 3-0, we were thinking, 'Let's control the game here," Dunn said.

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

The Courage did a good job containing league MVP forward Sam Kerr who only had one shot on goal the entire game.

Chicago Red Stars head coach Rory Dames admitted the third goal deflated his team heading into the break. "If it was 2-0, it would have been easier for us to reorganize at halftime."

The Chicago Red Stars earned a team record numbers of wins with 14 and points with 44. After being eliminated in the NWSL semifinals four years in a row, they were able to get over the hump by defeating the Portland Thorns FC 1-0 to advance to the Championship.

The Red Stars had around 300 fans who made the trip to the Championship to support the team. A big section of them were Chicago Local 134, the official, independent supporter's group for the team. They were loud, passionate and played drums the entire game.

North Carolina's Sam Mewis closed out the scoring in the 61st minute, giving the Courage their final 4-0 margin.

Mewis 27, also plays for the United States women's national team that won the Women's World Cup on July 7th.

The Courage became the first NWSL team to win a championship on its home field.

The dominating home win satisfied the home crowd. "Wow! The team was amped up and executed a near perfect game plan," said fan Lisa Hammond. "It was so exciting and rewarding to see the crowd so into the game. These women are simply amazing!"

"It was amazing to see such a dominant team go out an get validation for an amazing season (again)" added James Pearce. "We're lucky to have a team in our area that represents the sport so well and plays at such a high level. The sold-out crowd added to an amazing day all around."

The title game closed out a successful season for the National Women's Soccer League.

After the Women's World Cup, the league had record crowds in some cities including a high of 17,388 fans at a Chicago Red Stars home game on July 21st. Overall attendance came in 22% higher than it was last season.

The league is looking at expansion cities to join the circuit over the next three seasons. Louisville will be joining the league in 2021. Sacramento has been mentioned as a possibility for next season.

At mid-season ESPN signed on to cover the league and broadcast the NWSL Championship.

More corporate sponsors have come on board including Budweiser.

This week they announced a multi-tier consulting partnership with Octagon, which will advise the NWSL on its league media rights, sponsorships, and marketing.





Images from this story

The National Women's Soccer League Championship trophy
The National Women's Soccer League Championship trophy

(Fran Stuchbury)
Chicago Red Stars fans cheer on their team at the NWSL Championship Game
Chicago Red Stars fans cheer on their team at the NWSL Championship Game

(Fran Stuchbury)
Chicago Red Stars fans at the NWSL Championship Game
Chicago Red Stars fans at the NWSL Championship Game

(Fran Stuchbury)
North Carolina Courage fans show their support at the NWSL Championship Game
North Carolina Courage fans show their support at the NWSL Championship Game

(Fran Stuchbury)
North Carolina Courage fans celebrate the final score at the NWSL Championship Game
North Carolina Courage fans celebrate the final score at the NWSL Championship Game

(Fran Stuchbury)
North Carolina Courage celebrate the National Women's Soccer League championship
North Carolina Courage celebrate the National Women's Soccer League championship

(Fran Stuchbury)

• Discuss this story on the National Women's Soccer League message board...

National Women's Soccer League Stories from October 28, 2019


The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer(s), and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.