CARY, NORTH CAROLINA (May 12, 2018) — There’s no catching up to the North Carolina Courage.
At WakeMed Soccer Park, the Courage defeated the Washington Spirit to add to their NWSL lead. Right now, North Carolina is undefeated and leads the league with 20 points.
Abby Erceg was the hero for North Carolina with her game-winning header.
North Carolina Courage Remains Undefeated, Continues to Add to NWSL Lead
Erceg, a prime target for North Carolina on set-piece plays, headed the ball past Spirit goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe in the 63rd minute. The goal was assisted by Erceg’s fellow defender, Jaelene Hinkle.
“It was good, especially having missed that first one that was sitting right there,” Erceg said. “I made it a little bit hard for myself. I scored, and obviously happy that we get the three points.”
Paul Riley, North Carolina head coach, said the match was a “really good performance.”
“I thought we dominated the game,” Riley said. “The midfield was very, very good, and I think having Sam [Mewis] back helps us a lot.”
Mewis made her second start of the season after returning from a knee injury. The start was Mewis’ first at WakeMed Soccer Park this season.
Also returning to WakeMed Soccer Park was Taylor Smith and Ashley Hatch of the Spirit. Both players were traded to Washington this past offseason for the Courage to acquire forward Crystal Dunn.
— NC Courage (@TheNCCourage) May 13, 2018
- North Carolina is dominant: There’s no question about that statement. The first club to reach 20 points in the NWSL, there’s no catching up to the Courage right now. In second place, the Seattle Reign aren’t even close, with 13 points. North Carolina has a lot of breathing room. They can make a likely run at going undefeated for the whole year.
- Riley switches goalkeepers again: Giving Sabrina D’Angelo a break, Paul Riley elected to start Katelyn Rowland for the second time this season. In her first match, against the Utah Royals, Rowland was shaky. However, against Washington, Rowland had a much better game, earning a clean sheet and making three saves.
- Washington falls down the ladder: It’s bad when the Vera Pauw experiment in Houston thumps the young talent of the Spirit. Right now, Washington is sitting at eighth place in the NWSL, four points above last place Sky Blue FC. Washington fell from fourth place to eighth in the matter of a few weeks. Spirit Head Coach Jim Gabarra is on the hot seat for certain.
— NWSL (@NWSL) May 13, 2018