NC Courage Clinch Third-Consecutive NWSL Shield with 3-0 Win over Utah Royals FC
Cary, NC - The North Carolina Courage clinched their third-consecutive NWSL Shield on Saturday night with a 3-0 win over Utah Royals FC at Rio Tinto Stadium. Sam Mewis, Jaelene Hinkle, and Debinha netted the goals in the match. Stephanie Labbé earned her eighth clean sheet of 2019.
After a back and forth start to the match, the North Carolina Courage were on the scoreboard first after Kristen Hamilton was fouled in the box. Jessica McDonald headed a ball past the Utah defense that Hamilton reached but was then brought down by Becky Sauerbrunn before any further action. Sam Mewis stepped up for the Courage in the 30th minute to take the penalty kick, burying it in the left side of the net.
Mewis' goal was her second of the week, both coming from penalty kicks. Despite more chances in the half, the scoreline remained 1-0 going into halftime.
Stephanie Labbé came up with an important save in the 52nd minute to keep Utah scoreless. Sauerbrunn managed to get a head on a corner kick but Labbé was able to get a hand on the ball and keep it out of the net.
In the 65th minute, Jaelene Hinkle scored her first goal in an NC Courage uniform when her arching cross went through the hands of Nicole Barnhart. The outside defender sent in a ball that looked to be a cross but ended up sailing over the head of Barnhart.
Debinha built off of the momentum after Hinkle's goal and scored just five minutes later. Crystal Dunn intercepted a turnover and played the ball to Debinha who quickly turned towards goal and fired a low shot into the net.
As NWSL Shield winners, the North Carolina Courage will host an NWSL Semifinal match at Sahlen's Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park. Cary is also the home of this year's NWSL Championship presented by Budweiser.
With the win, the North Carolina Courage clinched their third-consecutive NWSL Shield.
NC Courage are guaranteed a home semifinal match. Ticket information will be announced in the coming days.
The North Carolina Courage improve their record to 14-4-4 (46 points)
The win was the Courage's sixth consecutive victory. It is the first time in club history that the team has won six straight games.
Jaelene Hinkle scored her first goal in an NC Courage uniform. Her last goal was in 2016 with the Western New York Flash.
Crystal Dunn had her fourth assist of the season.
NCC (4-4-2): Stephanie Labbe'; Jaelene Hinkle, Abby Erceg ©, Abby Dahlkemper, Heather O'Reilly; McCall Zerboni (Crystal Dunn, 59'), Denise O'Sullivan, Samantha Mewis, Debinha (Cari Roccaro, 79'); Jessica McDonald, Kristen Hamilton (Lynn Williams, 64')
Subs not used: Katelyn Rowland, McKenzie Meehan, Julia Spetsmark, Meredith Speck
UTA (4-3-3): Nicole Barnhart; Mallory Weber, Becky Sauerbrunn ©, Rachel Corsie, Katie Bowen; Katie Stengel (Vera Boquete, 53'), Gunnhilder Jonsdottir, Desiree Scott; Lo'eau LaBonta (Erika Tymark, 78'), Amy Rodriguez, Christen Press (Raisa Strom-Okimoto, 89')
Subs not used: Abby Smith, Gaby Vincent, Madeline Noff, Michelle Maemone
NCC: Sam Mewis (Penalty, 30'), Jaelene Hinkle (Unassisted, 65'), Debinha (Dunn, 70')
NCC: Denise O'Sullivan (Yellow card, 35')
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