Cary, NC- Due to nearby thunder and lighting, the NC Courage had to put a two hour hold on their match for Week 12 as they hosted Seattle Reign at WakeMed Field. Both teams were ready for a challenge as the Reign stood in third place behind the Courage with just a four point difference in the standings.
Early in the first half, forward Megan Rapinoe took a corner in the 15th minute while Reign midfielder Kristen McNabb headed the ball towards the net, but is deflected by the post and Courage goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland was able to gain control of the ball
Opportunities for each team seemed to occurr back to back as one team tried to outdo the other’s play or passing tactics. As the half quickly approached, Samantha Mewis received a pass from forward Ashley Hatch and attempted a shot on goal, but it was easily cleared by the Reign defense.
McCall Zerboni made a cross to the center from the left side of the field and although the Reign defense attempted to clear it, Hatch took advantage and scored, which gave North Carolina a 1-0 lead.
As it came down to the wire before half, the Courage continued to shoot on Seattle’s goal, keeping up the pressure and preventing the Reign from scoring the equalizer. Hatch almost saw a second goal for the Courage, but was interfered with by goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer who used her hand to throw off Hatch’s rhythm.
The Reign almost saw an equalizer by Rapinoe in the 44th minute when Rowland left her box and Rapinoe stole the ball from under her, but missed the open shot on goal that could’ve tied up the match before the half. Seattle was hopeful to make a comeback as they have scored 13 goals in the second halves of their previous matches. With the half ending in a 1-0 lead by North Carolina, no extra minutes of stoppage time were added.
When the second half started, the Courage immediately put pressure on the Reign by attempting to tear down their defense and make the break for another goal. On the other side, Seattle was in search of the equalizer to get back in the game, but North Carolina’s defense was solid.
The match continued in the humid heat and Hatch had several more close attempts on goal, but continued to shoot too far above the net.
With ten minutes left, the Courage had an advantage with a corner kick taken by Abby Dahlkemper. Forward Jessica McDonald leaped into the air to head the ball in the direction of the net and as Rapinoe came back to gain control the ball popped out allowing Zerboni to finish the play and put North Carolina up 2-0. Three minutes of stoppage time were added, but the Courage still came out on top with a victory at their home field.
“I think from our game plan point of view, it went really well,” said Head Coach Paul Riley. “I think they were really good at it. There were some great individual performances, but the team performance was excellent. The work rate and the press was great tonight. It was a bit cooler tonight, and it was easier to get the press in tight. We closed them down quickly. We really didn’t give them a lot – even in the second half. It was a good professional performance.”
NC-Ashley Hatch 33’
NC-McCall Zerboni 81’
SEA-Kristen McNabb, yellow card 71’
NC-Ashley Hatch, yellow card 75’
NC COURAGE: #9-Lynn Williams (#14-Jessica McDonald 66’), #12-Ashley Hatch, #7-McCall Zerboni, #10-Debinha De Oliveria, #3-Makenzy Doniak (#26-Sam Witteman 88’), #15-Jalene Hinkle, #6-Abby Erceg, #5-Samantha Mewis, #13-Abby Dahlkemper, #11-Taylor Smith (#22-Stephanie Ochs 79’), 0-Katelyn Rowland
Subs not used: #1-Sabrina D’Angelo, #8-Rosana Dos Santos Augusto,#25-Meredith Speck, #4-Elizabeth Eddy, #23-Kristen Hamilton
SEATTLE REIGN: #15-Megan Rapinoe, #9-Merritt Mathias (#33-Katlyn Johnson 83’), #36-Nahomi Kawasumi (#5-Kiersten Dallstream 69’), #20-Rumi Utsugi, #2-Christine Nairn (#17-Beverly Yanez
79’), #6-Lindsay Elston, #16-Carson Pickett, #3-Lauren Barnes, #19-Kristen McNabb, #13-Rebekah Stott, #28-Haley Kopmeyer
Subs not used: #26-Maddie Bauer, #22-Michaela Hahn, #7-Elli Reed, #24-Madalyn Schiffel
TOTAL SHOTS: NC 30-13 SEA
SHOTS ON GOAL: NC 6-4 SEA
FOULS: NC 6-8 SEA
OFFSIDES: NC 1-1 SEA
CORNER KICKS: NC 4-4 SEA
SAVES: NC 4-3 SEA