North Carolina Courage Claim Second-Straight NWSL Shield With Win Over Portland Thorns

North Carolina Courage Claims Second-Straight NWSL Shield

CARY, NORTH CAROLINA (Aug. 5, 2018) — It’s official: nobody is going to catch up to the North Carolina Courage.

Entering the last four weeks of NWSL regular-season action, the North Carolina Courage confirmed a season-long first place title. For the second year in a row, the Courage have claimed the NWSL Shield.

North Carolina Courage Claims Second-Straight NWSL Shield in Defeating Portland Thorns

The award is given to the top club in the league.

North Carolina began the season with a 12-game unbeaten streak. However, after a loss to the Utah Royals FC, North Carolina began another unbeaten-streak.

Now, the club hasn’t lost a game in seven.

With only four matches left this season, North Carolina locked its playoff spot last month. It didn’t take long for the club to take first place and run away with it. The consistent play from all club members — including the national team replacement players — has propelled North Carolina to the top.

Last year, the club won the NWSL Shield and made it to the NWSL Championship match. However, a hard-fought battle left the Portland Thorns FC as the league champions.

On Sunday night, the tables were turned. North Carolina extracted revenge over the Thorns. Lynn Williams opened the scoring up in the 37th minute. She recorded a second goal right before the halftime whistle blew.

Jessica McDonald assisted the first goal.

After the match, Williams said that it’s “great” that the Courage captured their second NWSL Shield title.

“I think it shows that all of our hard work in the regular season has paid off,” Williams said. “But we’re staying hungry. We want to continue out the season and continue building and see how far we can go with this thing. It’s a great feeling. I think we’ll go back tonight and have a little celebration of just like, ‘We’ve done this,’ but the season’s not over.”

In the second half, the Thorns scored to cut the deficit in half. Lindsey Horan scored in the 49th minute. Tobin Heath assisted the goal for her U.S. Women’s National Team teammate.

Three Takeaways

  1. Lynn Williams is MVP: This is the best season for Lynn Williams to date. Look away from the stats — which are indeed impressive — but look at her leadership. Her road back to the U.S. Women’s National Team has been paved with roadblocks. However, she’s been superb for club, scoring 10 goals in 17 matches.
  2. It’ll take a miracle to beat this team: Utah Royals FC did it once and drew during the other two meetings. However, teams just can’t get past the North Carolina Courage. The club even won the Women’s International Champions Cup, against European-based teams. If anyone is betting against North Carolina in the post-season, then the team will prove doubters wrong.
  3. Portland drops down: Are the Portland Thorns, the reigning NWSL champions, at risk of not making the playoffs? Right now, it’s a tight race in the NWSL standings. The Portland Thorns currently have 29 points, but the Chicago Red Stars are right behind with 28 points. It’s a close race for playoff spots — although North Carolina doesn’t have to worry.

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