Cary, NC – The North Carolina Courage have been dominant since starting their first season as a new team this year but a hat trick upset the top-ranked team at a home game this past Sunday.
Rapid Fire Goals
The Courage took on the third-ranked Chicago Red Stars late afternoon on Sunday, Monday 22, 2017, playing at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park. And while the game started with strong offense and defense by both teams for the first half hour, with the strict fundamentals you would expect from top-level athletes, the energy changed abruptly soon after.
At the 30th minute, Chicago got a penalty kick after referees called a foul in the box. Chicago’s Christen Press scored the penalty kick and started the away team off with a lead. Then not long after, Press and Sofia Huerta teamed up to challenge the Courage’s goalkeeper and managed to get a shot over the top, doubling their lead in the span of eight minutes.
But that was not all because in the 45th minute, bad luck led to another goal. The Courage’s goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo made a big play to save a ball from going in the net but that unfortunately made it bounce off to the side, right into the path of Chicago’s Vanessa DiBernardo. And DiBernardo took full advantage, kicking the ball with all her might and giving the Red Stars their third unanswered goal of the match.
The game was not a blow-out for the Courage, however. In the second half, the team took a markedly offensive approach, going after the ball and the net more aggressively. This paid off with a goal in the 54th minute by Lynn Williams, thanks to an assist from Jaelene Hinkle.
There was one more narrow goal attempt by Debinha a few minutes later but it was a fingertip’s length away from scoring as Chicago’s Alyssa Naeher blocked the goal, with the game eventually ending 3-1 in Chicago’s favor.
Assessing the Courage
Even with this week’s and last week’s loss, the NC Courage are still the number one ranked team in the league, winning four of the season’s six games so far.
This was the team’s first time trailing going into halftime and with their next game going up against the second-ranked Sky Blue FC, it will be another test for Cary’s new home team.
Aggression and offense continue to be winning components for the Courage. In past games, the team has led for its control of the ball and the flow of May 21’s game changed as the team got more offensive. Also, Williams and Debinha continue to stand out as potential season leaders in terms of goals scored.
The next home game is Wednesday, May 24, 2017 at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park.
Also this weekend, the North Carolina FC defeated Puerto Rico FC 2-1.
Story by staff reports. Photos by Rob Kinnan and North Carolina Courage.