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NWSL Saturday: North Carolina upset Washington Spirit

NC Courage midfielder Debinha (10) and Washington Spirit forward Francisca Ordega (14) during a match between the NC Courage and the Washington Spirit in Cary, NC in Week 7 of the 2018 NWSL season. Photo by Lewis Gettier.

Washington Spirit 1, North Carolina Courage 2

Last year, it wouldn’t have been considered an upset. The North Carolina Courage were undefeated all of last season, except for one match. One by one, the Courage went through and smashed every team that went through their way. Instead, this year, the tide has turned a bit. North Carolina is still a top team, but have seen competition rise in the league. However, they did get back to their winning ways with a victory over the Washington Spirit on the road.

The Courage saw their first goal in late stoppage time of the first half. A penalty was rewarded to the Courage after Sam Staab took down Debinha inside the box. After an initial penalty attempt, Debinha’s shot was saved by Aubrey Bledsoe. However, her rebound went past Bledsoe to give the Courage a lead before halftime.

In the second half, Leah Pruitt scored her second goal of her rookie year with the Courage. She slotted a shot inside the box into the top of the net in the 53rd minute. Washington attempted a rally, with a goal from Crystal Thomas. However, it wasn’t enough to take down the Courage at home.

Both sides saw a few international players back from the World Cup. For the Courage, Abby Erceg returned to the defense while Debinha took her place in the midfield. Meanwhile, for the Spirit, Cheyna Matthews, Chloe Logarzo and Amy Harrison made their way back from France to league play.

Goal Summary

  • North Carolina Courage (Debinha, 45’+4′)
  • North Carolina Courage (Leah Pruitt, 53′)
  • Washington Spirit (Crystal Thomas, 82′)

Caution Summary

  • Washington Spirit (Amy Harrison, 39′)
  • North Carolina Courage (McCall Zerboni, 90’+3′)

— Rachael McKriger

Houston Dash 1, Portland Thorns FC 2

On a night of celebration for the Houston Dash, three points were in their hands — but then it slipped right out. Celebrating the 100th appearance of captain Kealia Ohai and acknowledging Jane Campbell’s 50th league appearance, there was a lot to celebrate in H-Town. However, the celebration didn’t last throughout the night, as the Portland Thorns scored two goals in five minutes to claim victory on the road.

Portland went down first in the match. After a two-hour long rain delay, the teams featured for a physical first half, which ended in a scoreless draw. However, in the second half, Kyah Simon opened up the scoring. Simon started the match on the bench, but after an injury to Jamia Fields, she entered in the 38th minute.

Simon’s head found the end of a cross from Christine Narin for the first tally in the 51st minute. However, in the 70th minute, Tyler Lussi found the equalizing goal. Five minutes later, disaster struck in Houston when Margaret “Midge” Purce scored the game-winning goal. Lussi assisted the game winner from Purce.

With the victory, the Thorns leapfrogged over Washington for the first place spot in the NWSL. Washington fell to the North Carolina Courage earlier tonight. The Thorns currently have 19 points.

Meanwhile, the Dash currently sit in sixth place with 13 points.

Goal Summary

  • Houston Dash (Kyah Simon, 51′)
  • Portland Thorns (Tyler Lussi, 70′)
  • Portland Thorns (Margaret Purce, 75′)

Caution Summary

  • Portland Thorns (Elizabeth Ball, 60′)
  • Houston Dash Satara Murray, 75′)

— Rachael McKriger

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