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Courage blank Dash to secure semifinal in North Carolina

Eight months after bringing professional women’s soccer back to North Carolina, the Courage have brought a playoff game to the area. Kristen Hamilton’s first half goal stood up for a 1-0 victory over the Houston Dash to move the Courage 5 points clear in the Shield race with three games to play and in an uncatchable position or a top two finish and home semifinal.

The Courage will host their semifinal at Sahlen’s Stadium on Sunday, October 8 at a time to be determined. The Dash were eliminated from playoff contention earlier in the day when the Red Stars earned a point from FC Kansas City.

The Courage went without McCall Zerboni who was on a yellow card suspension leaving Samantha Mewis to play on top of the backline by herself for most of the match. Likewise the Dash were without defender Bruna Benites for the same reason.

The goal came in the 26th minute and started with a patented, long throw by Jessica McDonald. Abby Erceg went high to flick it behind her. Hamilton ran onto it and buried the shot for what turned out to be the only goal of the night.

Katelyn Rowland overcame one glaring error to record her 8th shutout of the season and the team’s record-equaling 11th. In the second half, Rowland let a long free kick by Kristie Mewis slip through her hands but it went wide of the net. The Dash were unable to create anything off the corner kick.

The Courage (15-6-0, 45 pts), now one win short of tying the 2014 Seattle Reign FC mark of 16 wins in a season. Their next scheduled game is September 23 at Sky Blue but they have a makeup game in Houston looming on an as yet determined date. The Dash (7-12-2, 23 pts), now out of the playoffs for a fourth straight season, host the Red Stars on September 23 and are on the other side of the makeup game.

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