UPDATE: The win, paired with results around the league, guarantee the NC Courage a spot in the playoffs for the second consecutive year
Piscataway, NJ (July 14, 2018) - The NC Courage (14W-1L-3D, 45 pts.) punched its ticket to the playoffs for the second consecutive season by dispatching Sky Blue FC (0W-12L-3D, 3 pts.) 4-0 at Yurcak Field on Saturday night. Lynn Williams recorded a second-half hat-trick after a first-half goal by Abby Erceg. Kristen Hamilton recorded two assists and Debinha added one of her own. Katelyn Rowland was exceptional between the posts recording her fourth clean sheet of the season.
The win, paired with other results around the league, guarantees the NC Courage a spot in the NWSL Playoffs for the second consecutive season.
On a warm pleasant evening in New Jersey, both teams traded barbs early on with Sky Blue applying pressure out of the gates. A Carli Lloyd shot from the flank sailed high in the fourth minute, while Williams was unable to finish a rebound from a Debinha shot three minutes later.
In the 11th minute, Debinha once again sent a shot barely wide of goal as the NC Courage started dictating the pace of the game. The tally came just four minutes later when Hamilton had the presence of mind to chase a ball to the touch line and send it across the Sky Blue box. The ball found an oncoming Erceg, who easily headed it near post for her second goal of 2018.
The hosts continued to look for an equalizer and nearly found one in the 34th minute when Sarah Killion tried to head home a cross from Savannah McCaskill only to see the ball rebound off the post.
Both teams continued to search for the back of the net, but the half ended with Courage controlling possession and leading 1-0.
Coming out for the second half, it was the NC Courage who continued to control the pace of the game, Hamilton almost struck a goal of her own, but her strike was saved by Sky Blue goalie Kailen Sheridan in the 52nd minute.
Four minutes later, Williams earned her first goal of the night by tapping in a Hamilton cross as Sheridan came off her line. In the 72nd, the 2016 NWSL MVP recorded her second tally of the game. After receiving a ball from Debinha, Williams went one-v-one with Sheridan and easily finished her opportunity.
Williams completed her hat-trick in the waning moments of the game as she took advantage of a back pass to Sheridan, dispossessing her and slotting the ball near post in the 89th minute for the final 4-0 score.
Next, the Courage travel to Sandy, Utah on Friday, July 20 to face Utah Royals FC at Rio Tinto Stadium at 10 p.m. The team will then travel to Miami, Florida to participate in the first ever Women’s International Champions Cup where it will face Paris St. Germain on Thursday, July 26 at 6 p.m. at Hard Rock Stadium.
-Abby Erceg recorded her second goal of the season
-Lynn Williams’ hat-trick brings her total to eight goals on the season one goal behind Chicago’s Sam Kerr
-Kristen Hamilton’s two assists bring her total to four on the season
-Debinha recorded her second assist of 2018
-The Courage outshot Sky Blue 25-11 (14-4 on target)
-Since losing to Utah Royals on June 16, the Courage are undefeated in the last five, outscoring their opponents 17-2
NCC (4-4-2): Katelyn Rowland; Jaelene Hinkle (Meredith Speck, 79’), Abby Erceg ©, Abby Dahlkemper, Merritt Mathias; Debinha (Heather O’Reilly, 75’), McCall Zerboni, Denise O’Sullivan, Crystal Dunn, Lynn Williams, Kristen Hamilton (Samantha Mewis, 66’)
Subs not used: Sabrina D’Angelo, Cari Roccaro, Kaleigh Kurtz, Darian Jenkins
NJ (4-3-3): Kailen Sheridan; Amanda Frisbie, Domi Richardson, Mandy Freeman, Erica Skroski; Thaisa Moreno (Madison Tiernan, 77’), Carli Lloyd ©, Sarah Killion; Imani Dorsey, Savannah McCaskill (Janine Beckie, 63’), Shea Groom (Katie Johnson, 70’)
Subs not used: Rebekah Stott, McKenzie Meehan, Caroline Casey,
NCC: Abby Erceg (Kristen Hamilton, 15’), Lynn Williams 3 (Kristen Hamilton, 55’, Debinha, 72’, unassisted, 89’)
NJ: Carli Lloyd 85’