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North Carolina Courage

NWSL Monday: Reign FC top North Carolina for first time in history

Reign FC midfielder Shea Groom (2) during a match against the Washington Spirit at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Germantown, MD - Saturday, May 4, 2019. Photo by Erica McCaulley

Tacoma, Washington — For the first time in club history, Reign FC have taken down the North Carolina Courage.

North Carolina has been in existence for two years and both teams have faced off a total of six times in the regular-season. In five out of the six contests, North Carolina claimed victories. It was only last year when the Reign FC drew with the defending NWSL champions.

However, Memorial Day was a different story.

Bethany Balcer continued to show her stripes in the NWSL with yet another goal in the 13th minute. Kristen McNabb launched herself down the left side of the pitch and sent a cross into a crowded box. Balcer snuck herself in the crowd and managed to get her head on the ball, sending it past Katelyn Rowland.

Meanwhile, the Reign weren’t finished with just one goal. It didn’t come at the snap of a finger, but in the 86th minute, Shea Groom added another tally to the scoreboard. North Carolina Courage defender Abby Erceg collided with Rowland, leaving Groom to pick up the loose ball. She chipped it into the empty-net goal, as Rowland scrambled to get back into net.

Just two minutes later, though, the Courage proved they were still in it until the final whistle blew. North Carolina, on a set piece corner kick, snuck in a goal past Casey Murphy, the newest goalkeeper addition to the Reign. With Michelle Betos out with an Achilles injury and Lydia Williams off on international duty with Australia, Murphy got the nod. Erceg, who will also be heading to the World Cup with New Zealand, scored on the newest NWSL goalkeeper.

However, North Carolina’s hopes for a win crashed whenever Merritt Mathias sent a shot that rocketed off the crossbar. North Carolina has not won an NWSL match since April 28 against the Houston Dash. Meanwhile, Reign FC have won their second-straight match in a row.

What’s Next?

North Carolina will brush off the loss with a trip down south to face the Orlando Pride on Saturday. Orlando has been winless this entire season, only notching one draw in the last seven matches. The two sides already met this season, on April 17, when North Carolina put five goals past Ashlyn Harris. With Harris gone for the World Cup, Haley Kopmeyer has been in between the sticks for Orlando.

As for the Reign, they earn an extra day of rest. On Sunday, they will host the Houston Dash. The Dash spent this Memorial Day weekend on a bye, but are coming off a loss against the Chicago Red Stars. This will be their first-ever visit to Cheney Stadium in Tacoma.

Goal Summary

  • Reign FC (Bethany Balcer , 13′)
  • Reign FC (Shea Groom, 86′)
  • North Carolina Courage (Abby Erceg, 88′)

Caution Summary

  • Reign FC (Theresa Nielsen, 30′)

— Rachael McKriger

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