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 North Carolina Courage

Preview of Courage vs. Thorns Saturday

April 12, 2024 - National Women's Soccer League (NWSL)
North Carolina Courage News Release

CARY, N.C. - The North Carolina Courage return to NWSL regular season action this Saturday, April 13, to host the Portland Thorns at 7 p.m. ET at WakeMed Soccer Park. The match will air locally on WRAL-TV and nationally on NWSL+.

The match will celebrate local artists with Art in the Park night featuring a limited-edition tumbler giveaway, while supplies last. On the field, the two teams with the most NWSL trophies in league history face off, with the Courage holding seven to Portland's six.

The Courage, who joined the NWSL in 2017, now have 99 wins across all NWSL competitions in club history. This includes Challenge Cup, Fall Series, NWSL regular season and post-season play. The Courage are 99W-45L-36D in NWSL action, including a 9-4-4 record against Portland.

As for 2024, the Courage sit third in the league table entering Match Week Four with six points on a 2-1-0 record, their best start to an NWSL regular season since 2019. They earned their first clean sheet of the season in a 1-0 win over Gotham FC two weekends ago, fighting off a valiant last-ditch effort from the visitors down the stretch.

Brianna Pinto's 44' goal proved as the match-winner, one-timing home a redirect from Ashley Sanchez after Bianca St-Georges whipped the cross in off a brilliant build down the right flank by Ryan Williams.

The Courage rank second in the NWSL in big chances (10) and goals scored (7), with Sanchez creating eight chances of her own to rank fifth in the NWSL. The blockbuster offseason acquisition also has a goal contribution in two straight contests.

Denise O'Sullivan continues to be the engine in the middle of the park, winning eight tackles, six fouls, and 24 duels; all team highs and among the top 10 across the NWSL.

Kaleigh Kurtz, a back-to-back Iron Woman and 2023 NWSL Defender of the Year finalist, has picked up right where she left off to lead the back line. The center back is tied for the league high with 23 clears while ranking fourth in possessions won in the defensive third.

Williams sits in third in the category and, overall, the Courage have four of the top ten with O'Sullivan and Malia Berkely joining the list. The back line's ability to win possession, along with the team winning tackles at 73%, are big factors in the Courage facing a league-low five shots on target through three matches.

Portland is off to a slow start to 2024, earning one point through three matches with an 0-2-1 record. They lost in a thriller to Kansas City, 5-4, in the season opener before dropping an 0-1 fixture against Gotham FC then settling for a 2-2 home draw with Racing Louisville.

Offensively, the Thorns have been strong with six goals and league highs in both shots (47) and shots on target (22). They have plenty of firepower up top with Sophia Smith leading an attack that also features Morgan Weaver, Janine Beckie, Olivia Moultrie, and Christine Sinclair.

The Thorns' defense has several new pieces this season and is still coming together. They have allowed a league-high eight goals, have the lowest tackle success rate (52.11), and only Houston has been dribbled past more times than the Thorns' 38.

The season is still young, but despite the small sample size the Courage appear to be building upon the foundation laid in 2023. Meanwhile, a proud Portland club has had two weeks to dwell on how their season has begun and will undoubtedly come out hunting three points. These decorated NWSL sides write another chapter of their storied history this weekend in the Triangle.

Friday, April 12, 2024


Saturday, April 13 | 7 p.m. ET | WakeMed Soccer Park

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