Jessica McDonald, Samantha Mewis Lead North Carolina Courage to NWSL Final

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Samantha Mewis
PORTLAND, OR - MAY 30: Samantha Mewis #5 of North Carolina Courage dribbles against the Portland Thorns FC in the first half during their game at Providence Park on May 30, 2018 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

PORTLAND, Oregon (Sept. 18, 2018) — Announcers, you’ve technically been getting it wrong.

Before the North Carolina Courage moved to WakeMed Soccer Park, the team was located in Rochester, New York. Obviously, being in New York, the team wasn’t the “North Carolina Courage.” Instead, the team was called the Western New York Flash — and that team won the NWSL Championship in 2016.

Jessica McDonald, Samantha Mewis Lead North Carolina Courage to NWSL Final

So, technically, this is now the third-straight NWSL final the team is entering. That’s especially true considering that a majority of the former Western New York Flash team moved to the Courage.

Jessica McDonald and Samantha Mewis were part of that championship Western New York Flash team. They were also part of last year’s championship team, that fell to the Portland Thorns FC in the final.

This year, both players, as well as the others on the North Carolina Courage, will have a chance to seek revenge — and make history.

No team that has won the NWSL Shield — given to the first-place team in the NWSL standings at the end of the regular season — and the championship. North Carolina ran away with first place in the league by a long-shot. However, there’s a big test in the way: the Portland Thorns FC and Providence Park.

We’ll get to that in a minute.

Tuesday night’s match was swirling with different story-lines. Due to the havoc of Hurricane Florence tearing through North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia, the Courage couldn’t host the semifinal match against the Chicago Red Stars at WakeMed. However, a crowd of over 4,000 graced the stands at Providence Park, where the match was moved.

McDonald scored the opening goal in the fifth minute, recording the fastest goal in NWSL playoff history. Before McDonald scored, Samantha Kerr tried her luck but found her ball hitting the crossbar of Sabrina D’Angelo’s net.

D’Angelo started in place of Katelyn Rowland, who is recovering from a mild concussion.

Mewis then struck the game-winning goal with a rocket shot from distance in the 86th minute. After the match, Mewis told sideline reporter Dalen Cuff, “We’ve had a good year so far, but we have some unfinished business.”

“We’re excited,” Mewis said. ” It’s going to be an exciting week.”

Three Takeaways

  1. Sam Kerr just looked off: Understandably, North Carolina kept a close eye on Kerr. The NWSL Golden Boot winner for the second year in a row, Kerr is a goal-scoring machine for both club and country. However, she was off against North Carolina. It was clear to see that Abby Erceg and Abby Dahlkemper put her on too much pressure. The shots that she did have — she took two, but neither registering on goal — were flops.
  2. We get it, Thorns fans. We get it: There comes a time when fans should just respect a certain situation. Clearly, because a hurricane was wrecking North Carolina, the Courage couldn’t host their semifinal match there. That’s completely unfair, given how hard the Courage worked to earn a home match. At the end of the match, the crowd in Portland began chanting “PTFC.” While it’s all good fun, Courage fans were probably fuming. Why should a team that just punched a ticket to the final have to hear another team’s chant?
  3. A huge, unfair advantage: Portland seems to have a big, huge advantage in the final this Saturday. Not only are the Thorns playing in their home stadium of Providence Park, but the players also get a few extra days of rest. Portland faced off against the Seattle Reign FC this past Saturday. That gives the Thorns three extra days of rest, while North Carolina has a quick turn-around. Really, there are now two playoff scenarios against the Courage.

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