Courage continue winning streak with 3-1 win over Pride

Allison Lee April 29, 2017 43

The North Carolina Courage continued its winning streak through Week 3 as it downed the Orlando Pride, 3-1. Jess McDonald, Sam Mewis and Lynn Williams all scored for the Courage, and Brazilian-international Camila scored for the Pride. It was the first goal of 2017 for each of the four scoring players.

Before the game, the Sahlen family presented NWSL Championship rings to the Courage players (and Alanna Kennedy, who was traded to the Pride during the offseason) who won last year’s championship with the Western New York Flash. While many fans and critics debate over whether the Courage are truly a new team or simply a rebranded one, the product on the field is much the same, just in a new package. The Courage once again used their speed, athleticism, and grit to get the win and resulting three points.

The Courage’s first goal came in just the 6th minute after Lynn Williams put a shot on target that was stopped by Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris. Harris was unable to collect the shot though, and Jess McDonald was there to capitalize, sending the rebound past Harris and into the net.

Camila would strike next for Orlando, driving the ball down just right of the middle, with time and space despite two defenders staying with her. The lack of strong defensive pressure allowed Camila to fire off a rocket from the top of the 18, splitting the defenders and curling the ball just out of Sabrina D’Angelo’s reach to level the score.

It would only take five minutes for the Courage to regain the lead after Laura Alleway was called for a handball in the box, resulting in a yellow card for Alleway after some words with the referee and a penalty kick awarded to the home side. Sam Mewis stepped to the spot and converted, putting the Courage up two goals to one.

Orlando appeared to have answered in the 39th minute when Jasmyne Spencer crossed to Marta, who nearly put it past a diving D’Angelo. D’Angelo was able to just get her body on Marta’s shot to slow its momentum while Abby Dahlkemper ran in and cleaned it up with a goal-line clearance. Marta thought the ball had fully crossed the goal line for a goal, but the line judge disagreed and ruled it a save.

The second half saw a number of chances for both sides, but each team’s goalkeeper was able to prevent the scoreline from increasing despite close calls from both teams in the opening minutes of the half.

Lynn Williams became her most dangerous in the second half, using her speed and athleticism to create a number of opportunities on goal. If her finishing was better, she would have scored multiple goals against the Orlando’s incohesive defense. Her first opportunity came just two minutes into the second half, when she beat former teammate Alanna Kennedy to get 1v1 with Harris, only to be denied by the keeper coming off her line and making an impressive kick save. Although the ball remained in play and was soon headed on target by Debinha, the shot was deflected out and the Courage were awarded a corner kick.

Williams nearly scored again just moments later after receiving a high ball and using her body to shield off a defender to win the ball, maintain possession, turn and fire off a shot, but the ball sailed just high of the crossbar. She would finally score in the 70th minute after Harris’s attempt to clear the ball was easily intercepted by Debinha and sent to Williams, where she stood unmarked in front of the goal. Williams managed to fire off a shot, splitting two defenders as they came crashing into each other in front of her, and the ball took a friendly deflection off the far post to go in for the Courage’s third and final goal of the match.

With the win, the Courage improve their record to 3-0-0 and 9 points, while the Pride fall to 0-2-1 and only 1 point. Up next for the Courage is a road trip to Boston, while the Pride head out to Kansas City. Both games take place on Sunday, May 7 at 6 p.m. ET.

  • Ethan

    Questionable positioning from D’Angelo on Camila’s goal, but that was a quality finish. Gorgeous touch and shot from Williams on her goal.

    • Forgedias

      Looking at the goal, you could be right but I also think she needs to cover the near post. D’Angelo is very athletic so she can move side to side quickly, like that save she did on Marta.

      • Ethan

        Cover the near post? Yes. Hug it? No.

        • Forgedias

          well ok, point taken she was near the post, but then look at one of the goals that Harris let in, she was covering the near post but not close to it so she had to try to kick save but missed. Those are the saves that you want your keeper to make. Its still a decision that a keeper has to make on whether to use your athleticism to try to dive across to make a side to side save or have more spacing. D’Angelo is obviously using that to help her make saves.

          Not saying its the right choice but if a keeper thinks they can use their abilities in different ways then I am not going to argue. Its the keepers that are slow off the line or won’t make commitments to come out of the box to challenge for balls that I do question.

  • guest

    Lavelle is the most intriguing player since the heyday of Morgan.

    • Movement

      Those were her Baby Horse days.

  • sam

    McDonald/Williams/Mewis continues to be dangerous. I expect them to make the playoffs.

    • Movement

      lol, really going out on a limb there with that playoff prediction.

      • Katie Curtiss

        I wouldn’t say sam is going out on a limb, they retained a majority of the championship team they had last year and added a few players that has only made the team better. The team chemistry that NC has is crazy. If you look at last year, the exFlash weren’t supposed to make the playoffs, let a lone win the whole thing as a 4th seed. So yeah I would expect them to make the playoffs too

        • Terry Lash

          It’s sarcasm.

  • Silver Frost

    TS is toast if he can’t turn this Pride ship around with all the talent at his command. This will be the first team Marta played for that had a losing record.

    • DNG

      All the talent? You and I see this team’s talent very differently. How many of their midfielders are starting caliber players on any other team in the league?

      • mockmook

        Two out of three?

        And, they have an “all star” defensive line.

        Their problem (at the moment) is more with their Forwards (except Marta).

        Still, most teams in the league have similar “holes”

        • DNG

          I don’t know. Edmonds, Camila and Monica have not been great and they don’t have much depth behind them. Their forward line definitely needs a CF but their midfield just isn’t doing a good enough job of shielding the back line for me. I think they need a DM to disrupt play.

      • Guest

        Got some options for a coherent front 6:

        Marta………D.Evans………Camila
        ………Edmonds…….Driesse………
        ……………….Kennedy……………….

        Catley……..Edmonds…..D.Evans
        ………..Marta………Driesse……….
        ……………..Kennedy………………..

        • DNG

          Does this look like a top 5 lineup to you with tons of talent? It looks middle of the pack to me.

          • Ethan

            Well, you did say “on any other team in the league” not “on any top 5 team in the league”.

            Fair point though.

          • DNG

            I was specifically taking about their midfielders but I’ll concede that I was exaggerating a bit. The truth is that there is always a chance if things go their way. It doesn’t seem like any team is going to be like Boston of last year and the competition is why I don’t see them making the playoffs. I actually did predicted Orlando to finish 5th this year before the season started. They will look better up top when Morgan returns and they have an actual center forward. Monica has not really been that solid of a DM so far but the season is still young.

          • mockmook

            And, hopefully Rachel Hill will be an impact player.

            Would really like to see what Driesse or Kennedy could do at that DM spot.

        • mockmook

          I wouldn’t mess with Catley in the back unless the season is lost — seems too valuable on defense to experiment in meaningful games.

    • Lorehead

      What do you mean? His fate forever is in the hands of Abby Wambach.

      • ABCDE

        Abby is still pulling the strings behind the scenes at USSoccer and the NWSL. She’s sabotaging Press and the Red Stars.

        • mockmook

          That b!t(h!!! 🙂

        • JL

          I laughed at this.

  • DNG

    Harris’ comments after the game are not comments you’d expect to hear for a team leader.

    https://twitter.com/ByNeilMorris/status/858485035011330048

    • guest

      It isn’t even the first time she’s said cr*p like this. It must truly be nice to be so above it all that you’re blameless when your team constantly falls apart. It’s even more ironic considering she said she “could breathe easier” with a real defense in front of her after Krieger was traded to them.

    • Ashley C

      I think she has the right to be honest but it’s probably not the best idea to say some of what she said with a team lacking confidence. Teammates will read that and wonder. Can’t imagine captains like Sinclair talking like this about teammates. Plus her distribution was questionable on one of the goals. It’ll be interesting to see how TS handles this.

      • DNG

        I think she has a right to be honest with her teammates but she doesn’t need to do it to the press. Also, when players don’t finish their chances they don’t need Ashlynn harris to tell them that they need to be better. The last paragraph about Marta is just terrible. She was completely at fault for turning over the ball that led to the third goal.

        • JL

          If she had said something similar, but to the team behind closed doors and not to the media, then I don’t have a problem with that. But publicly blaming your teammates while taking none for yourself is a terrible example to set as a captain.

      • Ethan

        You’re being generous. It’s definitely not the best idea, no captain should talk like this about his or her teammates, and her distribution was horrid (not just questionable) on Williams’ goal. That gaffe wasn’t really any better than Bouhaddi’s.

    • FawcettFan14

      Harris is herself responsible for Lynn Williams’ goal, so what exactly is she publicly bashing her teammates for?

    • MrTemecula

      She’s a keeper. I think their remarks and actions are held to a different standard…as in all keepers have a little crazy in them so whatever they say or do can’t be held against them.

  • Guest

    Spencer and Ubogagu need to go. Make the front line Camila, D. Evans, Marta and make the midfield Edmonds, Kennedy and Driesse.

    • Ethan

      What about Weatherholt?

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  • VaFan51

    The Pride had quality scoring possibilities, but could not finish, due in great part to the grittiness of the Courage defense. D’Angelo was very good, Kawamura held her own against Marta, and Dahlkemper was excellent in separating runners in the box from dangerous crosses. (If she does not get back into the WNT mix, there is no justice in the world.) And let’s not underestimate the importance of NC’s height (Mewis, McDonald, Erceg, and Williams’ hops) in winning balls in the air, especially in the MF. Make no mistake, despite the Courage F’s running around and behind the Pride defense, it was their central MF (Mewis, Debinha, and Zerboni) that made the biggest difference.
    The Pride seem unfocused in their attack, perhaps understandable when you’re trying to integrate Marta into the team, but they have had trouble scoring goals for a long time. Their only goal yesterday was not the result of any impressive build-up, but a tremendous strike from distance (Camila). One comment from the stands late in the match: “Hey, Marta. You’re the 3rd best Brazilian on the field.” Not untrue.

    • Ethan

      I didn’t watch most of the match, so I’ll take your word that Marta was the 3rd best Brazilian on the pitch. Nevertheless, she did well to set up Spencer and Edmonds for decent/very decent chances at goal, and she played a great ball over the top to Ubogagu, who managed to force D’Angelo into a good stop. Marta also did well to get on the end of Spencer’s cross for the chance that was saved and cleared off the line. Not the worst production for a “3rd best Brazilian” performance.

      • VaFan51

        Your points are completely valid. Marta’s “problem” was that none of her efforts really affected the game very much, but that certainly was not entirely her fault. Both Debinha and Camila seemed more influential. but with Marta there always are high expectations, plus the focused attention of the opposition’s defense.
        I think the lesson here might be that the arrival of Marta will not re-make the Pride. As good as she is, the level of competition is such that she might stand out, but not dominate. On the other hand, she may tear up the lesser defenses in the league.

  • J

    Wasn’t that impressed with Edmonds if I’m being honest.

    • mockmook

      Were you impressed with her when you are being dishonest?

    • Ethan

      Outside of her goalscoring, I wasn’t that impressed with her (or at least not as impressed as others were) throughout last season.

  • MrTemecula

    The Courage looked great again. They look even better than last year. I think they would even match up well against Lyon.

  • Michael V

    Only 4000 fans. So, as a Rochesterian, why did they move to NC? We did 4000 fans or more on average, correct?