NC Courage first to clinch NWSL playoff spot with win over Washington

Posted August 30

— The NC Courage (14W-0D-5L, 42 pts, 1st place) locked in a spot in the 2017 NWSL playoffs after a win at the Washington Spirit (4W-4D-12L, 19 pts, 10th place) on Wednesday night. After giving up an early goal, the Courage battled back to clinch the 3-2 win thanks to a goal from Sam Mewis and a Jess McDonald brace.

The NC Courage started with several promising chances including a counter-attack by Lynn Williams within the first five minutes of the match. The 2016 MVP crossed a ball to McDonald whose shot skimmed just wide of the frame.

Despite the Courage's dominance in the opening minutes, it was Washington who found the first goal. Cheyna Williams' initial shot was stopped by NC Courage goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland; however, Rowland's deflection landed at the feet of Estefania Banini who then put the ball away to give the Spirit the early lead.

The Courage finally found the equalizer in added time in the first half when an Abby Dahlkemper free kick found the head of Mewis. Mewis' header was flicked just high enough to sail over goalkeeper Didi Haracic's head and into the back of the net.

The second half opened with a great opportunity for North Carolina when Williams dummied a cross, opening up a scoring opportunity for McCall Zerboni. While Zerboni's shot was on frame, Haracic was there to make the save.

The Courage connected on another free kick in the 62nd minute that resulted in the team's second goal of the night when a ball from Jaelene Hinkle found McDonald's head. McDonald netted her second of the night just minutes later, this time off of a pass from Williams.

Washington got one back when Williams managed to force a ball by Rowland in the 74th minute; however, it was not enough for the Spirit to overtake the visiting team, and the Courage left with a 2017 NWSL playoff spot clinched.

Box Score:

WAS: Didi Haracic; Alyssa Kleiner, Estelle Johnson © (Shelina Zadorsky, 52’) , Whitney Church, Caprice Dydasco; Tori Huster; Cali Farquharson (Francisca Ordega, 59’), Estefania Banini, M. Dougherty Howard, Mallory Pugh (Havana Solaun, 76’); Cheyna Williams

Subs not used: Kelsey Wys, Morgan Proffitt, Lindsay Agnew

NCC: Katelyn Rowland; Jaelene Hinkle, Abby Erceg ©, Abby Dahlkemper, Taylor Smith; McCall Zerboni, Sam Mewis, Denise O’Sullivan (Debinha,72’), Kristen Hamilton (Makenzy Doniak, 90’+); Lynn Williams, Jess McDonald (Ashley Hatch, 80’)

Subs not used: Caroline Stanley, Nora Holstad, Sam Witteman, Stephanie Ochs

WAS: 2
NCC: 3

WAS: Estefania Banini (Unassisted, 8’), Cheyna Williams (Francisca Ordega, 73’)
NCC: Sam Mewis (Abby Dahlkemper, 45’+), Jess McDonald (Jaelene Hinkle, 61’, Lynn Williams. 66’)

NCC: --
WAS: Cali Farquharson (23’), Tori Hustler (45’+)                                                                   

NCC: --
WAS: --

Attendance: 2,365


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