NC Courage opens campaign with 1-0 win over Spirit
Posted April 15
The North Carolina Courage (1W-0L-0T; 3 pts) took to the road and played their first game in club history in a 1-0 win over the Washington Spirit (0W-1L-0T; 0 pts) at the Maryland SoccerPlex on Saturday afternoon. Midfielder McCall Zerboni scored the NC Courages’ first-ever goal in the 18th minute with a left-footed shot off a cross from Makenzy Doniak.
After both teams initially settled into the match, it was the Courage with the vast majority of chances created, as they ramped up the pressure and began their attack.
A goal to forever remember was scored in the 18th minute as Zerboni netted the first goal in NC Courage history as she found the back of the net on the far post from the top of the six-yard box. The midfielder met Makenzy Doniak’s cross to blast the ball past charging Washington keeper, Stephanie Labbé.
“It feels good because this club has been so good to us so far,” Zerboni said. “We’ve been working so hard this preseason, and so to pop a goal in and get a win on our first trial here is good.”
Not only did the Courage maintain possession for much of the rest of the first half, but the club impressively held the Spirit to zero shots.
The Courage and Lynn Williams returned in the second half looking dangerous as ever, as the forward created multiple chances within the first 10 minutes of the half. A shot just left of the net in the 47th minute, was followed by four other close shots by the 55th.
Debinha created havoc of her own as well, with numerous close chances. Her best opportunity came in the 59th minute as she blasted a hard shot that Labbé just got her hands on. She and Williams continued to create plays throughout the rest of the first half, with 12 shots throughout the game between the two.
Washington’s first true chances also came in the second half, with a close call in the 63rd minute, a shot from Katie Stengel that went just right.
Zerboni’s tally would be the only goal the club would need to secure three points for their first win, but overall, the Courage outshot the Spirit 23-4.
“They created so many really good chances,” assistant coach Scott Vallow said. “It was great to be able to get three points, and also be able to learn and get better for next week.”
Next up: The North Carolina Courage hosts the Portland Thorns in their inaugural season home opener on April 22 at 7:30 p.m. at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park. The first 500 fans will receive a free Sahlen’s hot dog, and there will be postgame fireworks. For tickets and information, please visit NCFCTix.com.
“Everything is new and exciting, so we’ve been anxious to start,” Zerboni said. “Now to get in front of our home squad, and see who comes out to support us and get all of that going is exciting.
Washington Spirit: Stephanie Labbe; Kassey Kallman, Shelina Zadorsky©, Swhitney Church, Estelle Johnson; Ktristie Mewis, Joanna Lohmann (Line Sigvardsen-Jensen,26’), Victoria Huster; Arielle Ship (Havana Solaun, 66’), Katherine Stengel, Cheyna Williams (Francisca Ordega, 38’)
Subs not used: Cameron Castleberry, Meggie Dougherty, Didi Haridic, Alyssa Kleiner
NC Courage: Sabrina D’Angelo; Jaelene Hinkle, Yuri Kawamura, Abby Dahlkemper, Sam Witteman (Taylor Smith, 67’); Debinha, Sam Mewis, McCall Zerboni, Makenzy Doniak (Elizabeth Eddy, 67', Kristen Hamilton, 78’); Jessica McDonald, Lynn Williams.
Subs not used: Katelyn Rowland, Rosana, Ashley Hatch, Courtney Niemec
NCC: McCall Zerboni (Makenzy Doniak, 19’)
WAS: Kristie Mewis (28’), Sheilna Zadorsky (82’)
NCC: McCall Zerboni (70’)