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NWSL Saturday: North Carolina dismantles Seattle in 1v2 matchup

Chicago Red Stars 2, Utah Royals FC 0

The Chicago Red Stars put away two second-half goals to defeat the visiting Utah Royals FC, 2-0. Katie Naughton scored the game winner early in the second half, while second-half sub Vanessa DiBernardo put away the insurance goal shortly thereafter.

The Red Stars were without the services of Morgan Brian who, despite being initially listed in the starting lineup for the home side, was replaced before kickoff by Nikki Stanton. Brian, who was dressed and sitting on the Red Stars bench, did not see the field and, as of yet, no official explanation has been provided.

After a scoreless opening half, the Red Stars got on the board in the 62nd minute, scoring off a set piece. Danielle Colaprico took a free kick from distance, sending her long service inside the box, where Naughton’s height gave her the advantage against the opposition. She sent a lofted header toward goal that was just out of the reach of Royals goalkeeper Abby Smith to score her first NWSL goal. Smith collided with the goal post while attempting to make the save and was shaken up for a bit following the play, but was ultimately okay and able to play the remainder of the match.

Chicago then doubled their lead via DiBernardo in the 70th minute, just four minutes after the midfielder entered the match in place of Michele Vasconcelos. The goal-scoring play also started with DiBernardo, who played a long ball for Sam Kerr on the far side of the field before making an overlapping run into the center of the field. Kerr found DiBernardo with a pass at the top of the box, and DiBernardo took one quick touch before firing the ball past Smith and into the back of the net to seal the win and three points for Chicago.

The Royals (4-3-5, 17 points) won’t have too much time to mull over the loss though, as they return home to Rio Tinto Stadium to take on the Seattle Reign on Wednesday, June 27, before hosting Sky Blue FC on Saturday, June 30. Chicago (4-3-7, 19 points) on the other hand, won’t retake the field until Sunday, July 1, when they host the Washington Spirit.


  1. Chicago Red Stars (Naughton 62’)
  2. Chicago Red Stars (DiBernardo 70’)

– Allison Lee

Washington Spirit 0, Orlando Pride 1

Alanna Kennedy’s wonder strike early in the match turned out to be the only goal on the evening and it carried the Orlando Pride into second place with a 1-0 victory over the Washington Spirit. The Pride had actually taken second on goal difference earlier in the day when the Reign got thumped by the Courage, but Saturday’s win, their first ever at the Maryland SoccerPlex, put them on 22 points to 19 for the Reign. The Courage are 11 points clear at the top.

The goal happened in the 11th minute. The Spirit were trying to move the ball through a crowded midfield when Kennedy stepped up to intercept a short pass. Moving across the midway line she wound up and stepped into a long-distance shot. Spirit goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe was positioned around the penalty spot, leaned back and jumped up, getting just a part of her left hand on the ball as it sailed over her head.

That was the only goal of the match, but it was not for a lack of chances or open play, even with Rose Lavelle pinned to the Spirit bench and Marta reduced to a 20-minute cameo. The Spirit’s best chance to equalize came through Caprice Dydasco in the 84th minute. Taking a pass from Ashley Hatch, the Spirit left back cut the ball back to her right and shot through a seem with space at the far post as the target. Ashlyn Harris set and dove to her left, knocking the shot away to keep the Pride in front.

The Pride (6-3-4, 22 pts), now in second, head home for a pair of home matches, Wednesday against the Dash and Saturday against the Courage on Lifetime. After a 1-2-0 start the only Pride loss in their last 10 matches came to the Courage. The Spirit (2-8-4, 10 pts) were shutout for the fourth consecutive match since last scoring Memorial Day weekend. They are not on the calendar for next week and will return to action Sunday, July 1 in Chicago.


  1. Orlando Pride (Kennedy 11′)

— Dan Lauletta

Seattle Reign 1, North Carolina 4

The match between the Seattle Reign and the North Carolina Courage proved to be full of offensive fireworks, but they primarily favored the visitors as the Courage dominated into a 4-1 victory on Saturday afternoon.

The first half got off to a quick start, with both squads pushing for end-to-end action. The Courage were awarded a penalty kick in just the 7th minute after the ball hit Steph Catley’s outstretched arm in the box, but the ensuing kick by Lynn Williams was saved by Seattle keeper Lydia Williams to keep the contest scoreless.

The deadlock wouldn’t hold for much longer, however, when Megan Rapinoe was fouled just outside North Carolina’s box, sent in a solid ball, that Megan Oyster hit home to put the Reign up 1-0 in the 18th minute. The Courage responded in the 27th minute, when Jaelene Hinkle got end-line to send a ball in front of the Seattle goal for Lynn Williams to head home.

After the Williams equalizer, momentum shifted in the visitors’ favor, and the Courage were able to find another goal in just the 33rd minute, when some confusion on an NC throw-in (the Reign were anticipating a throw from further back on the field) allowed Crystal Dunn to find space at the top of the box, and send a rocket past Lydia Williams to put the Courage up 2-1, where they would stay until halftime.

The second half would continue the Courage’s success against the Reign, when in just the 49th minute Merritt Mathias sent a curled ball in from outside the box to beat Williams and put North Carolina up 3-1. The scoring would end with one more Crystal Dunn strike in the 70th minute, and the Courage firmly put themselves at a level that the rest of the league is struggling to match.


  1. Seattle Reign (Oyster 18′)
  2. North Carolina Courage  (Williams 27′)
  3. North Carolina Courage (Dunn 33′)
  4. North Carolina Courage (Mathias 49′)
  5. North Carolina Courage (Dunn 70′)

— Claire Watkins


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