Goalkeeper errors highlight North Carolina Courage, Utah Royals draw

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CARY, NC - APRIL 08: Courage head coach Paul Riley (ENG). The NWSL's North Carolina Courage played a preseason game against the University of North Carolina Tar Heels on April 8, 2017, at WakeMed Soccer Park Field 3 in Cary, NC. The Courage won the match 1-0. (Photo by Andy Mead/YCJ/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

CARY, NORTH CAROLINA – Katelyn Rowland and Abby Smith had days to forget on Saturday.

Despite picking up a point for their respective clubs, the two goalkeepers had plenty of errors in the 2-2 draw.

The Courage, at home in WakeMed Soccer Park, didn’t waste any time getting on the board. Merritt Mathias slotted the opening tally past Smith in the 6th minute outside the box.

Goalkeeper errors highlight North Carolina Courage, Utah Royals draw

Mathias, who was acquired from the Seattle Reign FC during the offseason, scored her first goal as a member of the Courage.

However, the beginning of the second half was all Utah. In the 52nd minute, Katie Stengel caught Rowland off her line and chipped a header into the goal. In the 66th minute, Brittany Ratcliffe took a shot from outside the box.

Rowland almost had her fingertips deflect the shot by inches. However, Utah took the lead for the first time.

On the brink of losing their first match of the season, the Courage took advantage of a goalkeeper error by Smith.

Smith attempted to launch a clearance but miss the ball. Lynn Williams originally picked up the ball, but it fell to teammate Crystal Dunn.

Dunn then slotted the shot home, putting the score at an even 2-2.

After the match, Dunn told Dalen Cuff of Lifetime TV that the Courage “let them get back into the match.” She also noted that she is embracing her role on the team.

“My role is to just roam and create all types of chaos,” Dunn said.

Three Takeaways

  1. Seven points in eight days: The Courage were dealt with three matches in the span of eight days. In those eight days, the Courage managed two wins and one draw. They remain undefeated, and the seven points add to their first-place standing in the NWSL.
  2. McDonald was off, but that’s expected: With three matches in eight days, North Carolina Head Coach Paul Riley opted to not enact much change to his starting lineups. Jessica McDonald started all three matches. Naturally, one of her three matches was off, and this one was it.
  3. Rowland gets in, but will she stay in goal: For the first four matches of the season, Sabrina D’Angelo started in goal. In addition to her starts, D’Angelo has recorded three clean sheets. Now, Riley opted for Rowland, and she had a shaky match. Will Riley give her another chance or will D’Angelo return? Riley has to take into account that there were only a few days of practice in between — and Rowland hardly got practice with the starters.

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