Match Recap: Courage Fall Short at Kansas City Current
KANSAS CITY, KS (Aug. 28, 2022) — The North Carolina Courage came up just short in a 3-2 loss against the Kansas City Current at Children’s Mercy Park on Sunday night. The match featured an offensive back-and-forth that saw a brace for Courage striker Kerolin Nicoli.
“I think the game was really open tonight,” Courage defender Merritt Mathias said. “It didn’t feel like there was this momentum that one team had consistently. It kind of went back and forth and those games are just hard. … I think we created chances to get us even and it was a hard-fought game but, unfortunately, we ended up on the side that didn’t get the three points.
“It’s a little frustrating, but we have to not hang our heads and look forward to [NJ/NY Gotham FC] because it’s the game we have in hand and we have to go for it.”
The match got off to a roaring start when the Courage’s Brianna Pinto was cited for a handball inside the 18 and Kansas City’s Lo’eau LaBonta stepped up to the spot in just the fifth minute of play. LaBonta netted her sixth goal of the season and opened the scoring account for the night.
The Courage offense didn’t sit back, however, and in the 28th minute, defender Merritt Mathias sent a long ball in to forward Kerolin Nicoli, who, ignoring the tough angle, slotted the ball in past Kansas City keeper AD Franch.
In the 36th minute, Casey Murphy stopped an attempt from the Current’s Claire Lavogez, getting a hand to a high ball and tipping it over the crossbar. The first half ended with the squads in a deadlock at one goal apiece.
Not satisfied with just the one goal, Kerolin Nicoli scored her second of the night and third of the season with a breakaway assisted by defender Kaleigh Kurtz. Down but not out, the Current netted the equalizer and game-winning goal just three minutes apart with CeCe Kizer scoring Kansas City’s second goal of the match and Kristen Hamilton tallying the third.
The home side continued their press but Courage keeper Casey Murphy stood on her head multiple times to hold the score to give the visitors the opportunity to come back.
“Casey is really coming into her own,” Mathias said. “It’s why she’s consistently getting called into the national team camp. She’s an incredible keeper and we’re lucky to have her. She’s come up with some pretty big saves game after game … and that’s huge. All the credit to Casey and her hard work — I think she’s only grown since coming here. I can’t wait to see what she does in the next couple years. She’s going to be unstoppable.”
After four minutes of added time, the Current’s lead held and the Courage remain in 9th place in the NWSL season standings.
Up Next: The North Carolina Courage hit the road again to take on NJ/NY Gotham FC in their COVID-19 rescheduled match on Sunday, Sept. 4, at 5 p.m. ET. The match will be broadcast live on Paramount+ and Twitch.
- Merritt Mathias played her 175th career regular-season NWSL match. She is just the third NWSL player to reach the milestone (after Lauren Barnes and McCall Zerboni).
- Kerolin Nicoli netted her first career regular-season NWSL brace.
NC: Casey Murphy, Carson Pickett, Abby Erceg, Kaleigh Kurtz, Merritt Mathias (Ryan Williams — 77’), Debinha, Fuka (Jaelene Daniels — 70’), Meredith Speck, Brianna Pinto (Malia Berkely —90+2’), Kerolin Nicoli, Diana Ordóñez (Brittany Ratcliffe — 70’)
KC: AD Franch, Kristen Edmonds (Addison Merrick — 73’), Elizabeth Ball, Alex Loera (Taylor Leach — 83’), Desiree Scott, Hailie Mace, Kate Del Fava, Lo’eau LaBonta (Izzy Rodriguez — 82’), CeCe Kizer (Chardonnay Curran — 77’), Claire Lavogez (Elyse Bennett — 73’), Kristen Hamilton
NC: Kerolin Nicoli (Merritt Mathias — 28’; Kaleigh Kurtz — 48’)
KC: Lo’eau LaBonta (PK — 5’); CeCe Kizer (Alex Loera — 56’); Kristen Hamilton (Kate Del Fava — 59’)
NC: Meredith Speck — 65’
KC: Elizabeth Ball — 87’