North Carolina Courage

Match Report: North Carolina Courage Shuts Out FC Kansas City 2-0 to Retain First Place

The North Carolina Courage downed visiting FC Kansas City 2-0 Saturday afternoon at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park in a dominating effort.

The Courage struck twice during a 10-minute period in the second half and cruised to its NWSL-leading sixth win of the season.

With the victory, The Courage has 18 points on the season and holds on to first place in the league for the eighth-straight week. McCall Zerboni and Ashley Hatch provided the goals, while Katelyn Rowland earned her second shutout in goal.

“I think it was a really professional performance again at home,” said head coach Paul Riley. “You have to win your home games and coming back from a rough week last week this is a big one for us with a little bit of a break so they can get some rest.”

The Courage opened the match with a dominant first half, out-possessing the visitors 55.7-44.3 percent. The high press limited offensive production for Kansas City, who only tallied four shots during the first half.

The pressure caused problems on the backline for Kansas City and nearly paid off in the 27th minute, when Lynn Williams dribbled around the defense in the box. Her shot beat FCKC keeper Nicole Barnhart, but slid just wide of the post, as Kansas City escaped the early threat.

The Courage almost earned its opening goal in the 40th minute, but Abby Dahlkemper’s header hit the post twice and bounced back into play. Following the near goal, Kansas City countered with its best attacking chance of the game. Sydney Leroux was played into the box and ripped a shot towards goal, but Katelyn Rowland was there to make the save and keep the match scoreless.

The pressing attack broke down FCKC’s defense in the second half, when Zerboni scored in the 60th minute. The midfielder redirected Erceg’s header from close range for her second goal of the season. Erceg was credited with her first assist of the season.

Just seven minutes later, North Carolina struck again to double its lead. Hatch received a pass from Williams and buried her attempt, scoring her first professional goal on her first career start. Williams earned her second assist of the year with the pass.

The Courage rode out the final 23 minutes with a professional performance en route to its fifth shutout of the year.

Video: Match highlights

Lineups

NC: Katelyn Rowland; Jaelene Hinkle, Abby Erceg ©, Abby Dahlkemper, Taylor Smith; Makenzy Doniak, (Kristen Hamilton, 70′), McCall Zerboni, Sam Mewis, Debinha (Rosana, 86′); Lynn Williams, Ashley Hatch (Elizabeth Eddy, 76′)

Subs not used: Sabrina D’Angelo, Sam Witteman, Meredith Speck, Jess McDonald

KC: Nicole Barnhart; Brittany Taylor, Becky Sauerbrunn ©, Yael Averbuch, Christina Gibbons; Lo’Eau LaBonta (Maegan Kelly, 76′), Desiree Scott, Katie Bowen (Becca Moros, 17′); Shea Groom, Brittany Ratcliffe (Erika Tymrak, 69′), Sydney Leroux

Subs not used: Cat Parkhill, Caroline Flynn

Score:

NC: 2
KC: 0

Goals:

NC: McCall Zerboni (Abby Erceg, 60′), Ashley Hatch (Lynn Williams, 67′)
KC:

Cautions:

NC: Ashley Hatch 13′, McCall Zerboni 57′,
KC: Becky Sauerbrunn 43′

Attendance:

3,717

The team will enjoy a break during the FIFA competition window and return home on Saturday, June 17 for Pride Night, as the team hosts the Boston Breakers at Sahlen’s Stadium at 7:30 p.m.

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