Courage Remain Top of Table with Win over Sky Blue

Lynn Williams. (Shane Lardinois)
Lynn Williams.

The North Carolina Courage remained in first place in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) after a 2-0 win over Sky Blue FC at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina. The match was the league’s first midweek contest of the season. The win snaps a two-game losing streak for the Courage and snaps a two-game winning streak for Sky Blue.

There was heavy squad rotation as the midweek game marked the second game in a seven-day stretch that will see both teams play three games with their next games on Saturday. For North Carolina, goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland got her first start of the season and made two saves on the evening. Abby Erceg returned to the lineup after serving a one-game suspension for a record received in the Courage’s 1-3 loss to Orlando on May 14.

For Sky Blue, Kayla Mills got the start in defense while McKenzie Meehan started up top. Raquel Rodriguez and Sam Kerr started on the bench.

North Carolina struck in the 20th minute off a rocket just outside of the box by Lynn Williams for her third goal of the season. Williams, given too much space and time from the Sky Blue defense, launched a right-footed strike that beat goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan far post.

Jessica McDonald almost doubled the lead in the 33rd minute after finding herself open on the left side and taking the ball in on goal to fire a left-footed shot that beat Sheridan but not the crossbar.

Sheridan was called to action often on the evening and ended the match with 11 saves in the game, including a 41st minute sliding kick save that denied Williams her second goal of the evening.

Sam Mewis increased the lead to 2-0 for the Courage in the 42nd minute after getting on the end of a Sheridan rebound off a save from a McDonald header.

Sheridan was superb on the evening and kept Sky Blue in the match, including a key save early in the second half that denied Taylor Smith and kept the score at 2-0.

In the 57th minute, Sheridan came off her line to stop Debinha after a defensive miscue.

Even with Raquel Rodriguez and Sam Kerr inserted in the second half, Sky Blue couldn’t break down the Courage defense and the score remained 2-0 for the home team at the final whistle.

The Courage improve to 5-2-0 while Sky Blue falls to 3-3-1.

The short turnaround sees both teams in action on Saturday. North Carolina gets a rematch with Chicago at Toyota Park while Sky Blue returns home to host the Orlando Pride.

Attendance: 2,383


North Carolina Courage
99-Katelyn Rowland; 20-Yuri Kawamura; 6-Abby Erceg; 13-Abby Dahlkemper; 15-Jaelene Hinkle (26-Sam Witteman, 77′); 7-McCall Zerboni; 5-Samantha Mewis; 11-Taylor Smith (3-Makenzy Doniak, 65′); 10-Debinha; 14-Jessica McDonald (12-Ashley Hatch, 70′); 9-Lynn Williams

Sky Blue FC
1-Kailen Sheridan; 8-Erica Skroski; 22-Mandy Freeman; 3-Christie Pearce; 15-Kayla Mills; 7-Nikki Stanton (5-Maya Hayes, 73′); 16-Sarah Killion; 21-Leah Galton; 10-Daphne Corboz (11-Raquel Rodriguez, 65′); 19-Kelley O’Hara; 2-McKenzie Meehan (20-Samantha Kerr, 55′)


North Carolina Courage

Yellow Cards:
Abby Erceg, 26′

Sky Blue FC

Yellow Cards:
Sarah Killion, 47′
Nikki Stanton, 59′