North Carolina Courage pick up victory over 10-person Washington team

North Carolina Courage
BOYDS, MD — JUNE 29: North Carolina Courage's Merritt Mathias (11), Leah Pruitt (12), Lynn Williams (9), and McCall Zerboni (7) hug and celebrate with Debinha Miri (Débora Cristiane de Oliveira) (10) after her late first half goal during the National Womens Soccer League (NWSL) game between the North Carolina Courage and Washington Spirit June 29, 2019 at Maureen Hendricks Field at Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, MD. (Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).

Cary, North Carolina — It wasn’t the type of evening on the radar.

After watching the rain trickle onto the field and then wash into the actual corridors of Sahlen Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park, the match between the Courage and Washington Spirit was moved to Saturday. However, Saturday was already a jam-packed day. Not only were there two NWSL games, but the U.S. Women’s National Team kicked off their Victory Tour against Ireland.

However, there was really no choice.

The next day, nightmare ensued for the Washington Spirit. The Spirit are used to weather delays and have seen plenty of rainfall at their own stadium. However, the Spirit haven’t seen an early red card this year. Paige Nielsen was shown a straight red card in the 24th minute for fouling Debinha.

However, Debinha didn’t score off the free kick, but in the second half. Julia Spetsmark, the Swedish international, found her Brazilian teammate for a goal in the 64th minute. After the match, Courage head coach Paul Riley said his side had glimpses of brilliance against Washington.

“We had some great moments at times,” Riley said. “Our two fullbacks [Jaelene Hinkle and Merritt Mathias] were excellent in getting in lots of balls today.”

Meanwhile, in goal, Stephanie Labbé continues to dominate the league. Since joining the Courage, Labbé has four clean sheets in eight matches. She missed a large portion of the summer, due to the World Cup. However, she was opposite of Aubrey Bledsoe, who leads the league in saves with 55 saves and six shut outs.

Washington will look to bounce back on Saturday, as they host the Chicago Red Stars.

Rosie White scores first Reign FC goal

Rose White didn’t waste any time for fans to start chanting her name.

On the road in Houston, White tacked on her first goal as a member of Reign FC. Her goal came early, in the 21st minute, to secure three points. However, Reign FC had more chances on the road, with White having two more shots on goal.

However, all eyes turned to Houston for a number of reasons. They had 19 total shots, with four hitting on frame. However, Kristie Mewis, Kyah Simon and Kealia Ohai could not find the back of Casey Murphy’s net.

Also, eyes are on Houston due to their attendance numbers. While other teams are seeing a surge in attendance, the Dash are far away from any increase. The Dash only saw 3,621 seats filled up at BBVA Stadium.

After the match, Reign FC coach Vlatko Andonovski said that traveling to Houston is unlike any other place.

“Going into Houston, we knew it was going to be different from the travel perspective,” Andonovski said. “The temperature was a factor. There were lots of variables that came in to deciding what type of game we were going to play. So, that’s why we decided to stay a little bit lower, be a lot more conservative, allow shots from distance. Sometimes, that can backfire, but this time we were fortunate enough and good enough that it worked well.”

Meanwhile, it was another disappointing game for Dash coach James Clarkson.

“We take one step forward and two steps back after tonight and huge opportunity to win the game,” Clarkson said. “The game was winnable, and we got ourselves in some good spots – about 20 shots on goal and maybe four on target… It’s something that we’ve got to continue to work on and try to improve.”

Red Stars win fourth-straight against Utah

The Chicago Red Stars are on a roll.

Despite having their match cut so close to the start of the USWNT match, the Red Stars put on a performance. Sam Kerr wasted no time scoring her 12th goal of the NWSL season, putting her goal in the back of Nicole Barnhart’s net in the fifth minute. Barnhart came back, making a few eye-catching saves against Kerr.

However, late in the match, there was one player that Barnhart couldn’t stop.

Brooke Elby isn’t the most popular player in the world. Her name isn’t a household one, unless you’re familiar with the NWSL Player’s Association. She’s the president of the group right now, taking over from Yael Averbuch, who continues to support the group. However, when Elby gets action in games, she makes the most of it.

She scored the game-winning goal past Barnhart in the 85th minute. Elby ran toward her teammates, arms spread out and with a giant smile plastered on her face. A former member of the Royals, Elby has only totaled 182 minutes in 11 matches this season. Her first goal of the season was against Reign FC back in April.

Chicago is sitting pretty in the standings at third place. The league is narrow and right now, Chicago is only separated from first-place North Carolina by two points. Meanwhile, the Royals, should the season end today, would miss the playoffs. They’re currently in the seventh place slot.

Sky Blue draws with Portland at Providence Park

One of the most formidable places in the NWSL is Providence Park.

No stadium fills up more in the NWSL than the stadium in Portland. However, Sky Blue FC, who have a stadium that fits only about 5,000 fans, went into the lion’s den and managed to claim a point. Imani Dorsey was the hero for Sky Blue FC, as she scored the equalizing goal in the 69th minute.

She did it to silence — or just quiet down — 19,070 Thorns fans.

Meanwhile, it was Christine Sinclair that scored first to get the large crowd on their feet. Sinclair slotted home a penalty attempt past her fellow Canadian international teammate Kailen Sheridan in the 39th minute. The penalty was earned by Hayley Raso, who was taken down inside the box by Sky Blue defender Estelle Johnson.

Portland doubled how many shots that the New Jersey club took, taking 19 compared to the eight by Sky Blue. However, Portland was only able to nab three shots on goal. Sheridan made two saves against Raso and Simone Charley.

Meanwhile, Britt Eckerstrom made one save against Paige Monaghan.

The Thorns currently occupy the second place spot, just one point away from first-place North Carolina. Sky Blue FC are currently battling to get out of last place, a spot they sat in all last season. Sky Blue FC has nine points, but Orlando is only ahead of them in eighth place with 11 points.

 

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