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 North Carolina Courage

Hot Start Continues for Courage in Another Shutout Victory

by Fran Stuchbury
April 15, 2024 - National Women's Soccer League (NWSL)
North Carolina Courage

North Carolina Courage take on the Portland Thorns
North Carolina Courage take on the Portland Thorns
(North Carolina Courage, Credit: Fran Stuchbury)

The North Carolina Courage defeated the Portland Thorns, 2-0, in front of 5,711 fans at WakeMed Soccer Park on Saturday evening.

The Courage recorded their second consecutive clean sheet. following a shutout of Gotham FC, 1-0, on March 30th prior to the international break. North Carolina earned their milestone 100th win across all NWSL contests in club history. It was also the third win in four matches for their best regular season start since the 2018 season.

"Good game performance," said Courage Head Coach Sean Nahas. "I felt we were pretty well-rounded. The preparation from the staff and the players over the last couple of weeks has been really good. There were some moments where I felt we were a little bit lax, especially where we had to go ahead and win the tackle, but I felt the group was fantastic tonight; just a really good team win."

North Carolina had possession of the ball 56 percent of the time. The back line held Portland Thorns forward Sophia Smith to only one shot on goal.

Portland, which made the NWSL Semifinals last season, fell to 0-3-1 this season.

The Courage opened the scoring in the fifth minute with the first goal of the season by forward Tyler Lussi assisted by Ashley Sanchez who became the first North Carolina player with a goal contribution in three straight matches since Tess Boade in September of 2022.

Lussi was a third round pick in the 2017 NWSL College Draft by the Thorns. On December 8, 2021 she was traded to Angel City FC before she was traded to the North Carolina Courage in exchange for defender Merritt Mathias on January 20th.

After Lussi scored the goal she made a heart symbol with her hands. "Obviously one of our slogans is for the love of the Courage," said Lussi. "Love the fans (who) came out and had a really good support. Then obviously for my friends and family and boyfriend who was here."

North Carolina made it 2-0 in the 36th minute with the second goal of the season by forward Haley Hopkins, assisted by Lussi.

Hopkins is playing in her second season for the team after being selected in the first round, 11th overall, in the 2023 NWSL Draft.

"I think any time you're in a second year, you're always going to improve", said Sean Nahas. "There's still things she has to be a little bit better at, just in terms of taking care of the ball and managing the game a little bit. We trust her, and she put herself in good spots. She's a goal scorer, and she's only going to keep getting better."

The next Courage game is on the road Sunday, April 21st, against Angel City FC. Their next home game is Saturday, April 27th, against the Seattle Reign.

Images from this story

North Carolina Courage take on the Portland Thorns
North Carolina Courage take on the Portland Thorns

(Fran Stuchbury)

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National Women's Soccer League Stories from April 15, 2024

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