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NWSL Wednesday: Courage thump Thorns, extend unbeaten run to 11

Lynn Williams had a brace in Portland (photo courtesy ISI Photos)

The North Carolina Courage scored three times during a seven-minute window in the second half on their way to an authoritative, 4-1 victory over Portland Thorns FC at Providence Park. The win extended the Courage unbeaten run to 11, the third longest streak in NWSL history — all of which have been from the start of a season.

The Courage went ahead after a half-hour after Debinha won a penalty kick. First she took on multiple Thorns defenders dribbling through midfield, then laid it off for Jess McDonald who played to Lynn Williams. The return pass from Williams found Debinha in the box and Katherine Reynolds was a bit too aggressive with her challenge. Williams then stepped up and smashed home the penalty.

The second half flurry began in the 58th minute. Collecting a defensive free kick in midfield the Courage moved it forward on a give-and-go between Crystal Dunn and Jess McDonald. Dunn took it down the right side and put a cross right on the head of Debinha whose header made it 2-0.

In the 62nd, McDonald took a long throw-in and the Courage won the first three balls — off the heads of Abby Erceg and Sam Mewis, and then to Williams who was waiting at the far post to bury her second of the night. Two minutes after that, McDonald got her head on a Jaelene Hinkle corner kick and McCall Zerboni flicked it to Mewis who was waiting near the goal line to finish it.

The lone bright spot for the Thorns came in the 89th minute when Katherine Reynolds pulled one back, her first NWSL goal in her 100th regular season appearance.

The Courage (9-0-2, 29 pts) are now 12 points clear of the Reign at the top of the table, though the Reign have two matches in hand. The Courage also matched the 2014 Reign for the best 11-game start in league history and trail only that Reign team (16) and the 2016 Thorns (12) for longest unbeaten streak. All three began with a new season. They are off to Houston where they play the Dash on Sunday night without Dunn, Mewis, Zerboni, or Merritt Mathias, who will go into camp with the United States on Friday.

The Thorns (4-4-3, 15 pts) have a bye this weekend and will be spared USWNT absences. They return to action on Saturday, June 16 in Chicago.

GOAL SUMMARY:

  1. Courage — Lynn Williams (penalty kick), 31
  2. Courage — Debinha (Crystal Dunn), 58
  3. Courage — Lynn Williams (Sam Mewis), 62
  4. Courage — Sam Mewis (McCall Zerboni), 64
  5. Thorns — Katherine Reynolds (unassisted), 89

Dan Lauletta

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