Portland, Ore. (September 18, 2018)- The North Carolina Courage defeated the Chicago Red Stars 2-0 in the second 2018 NWSL Semifinal at Providence Park on Tuesday night. Goals by Jessica McDonald and Samantha Mewis, both assisted by Crystal Dunn, proved to be enough for the Courage to earn the right to a rematch in the NWSL Championship against Portland Thorns FC on Saturday, September 22 at 4:30 p.m. ET. The semifinal match was originally scheduled for Sunday, September 16 at Sahlen’s Stadium in Cary, NC, but was moved to Portland due to uncertainty surrounding Hurricane Florence.
The Red Stars almost struck first with a well-placed volley by Yuki Nagasato that hit the crossbar in the third minute. It was the Courage, however who would draw first blood. Dunn fed a through-ball to McDonald who took it upfield and struck it far post for the 1-0 lead in the fifth minute.
Four minutes later Sam Kerr almost found the equalizer, but her shot from the top of the box hit the post and ricocheted back into the box before being cleared by the NC Courage defense.
Both teams continued to trade opportunities throughout the rest of the half with Debinha’s shot in the 13th minute going wide and a header by McDonald in the 25th being cleared by Nagasato near post.
Just before the halftime whistle, the Red Stars made one last attempt on goal with the Japanese striker, but Sabrina D’Angelo was on it making a brilliant save.
The second half started with Chicago pressing hard for an equalizer a shot by Casey Short in the 55thwas saved by D’Angelo, while Kerr was unable to connect with a cross in front of goal in the 67th.
With the game winding down, the Courage applied some pressure looking for an insurance goal. Back-to-back opportunities by Debinha ended wide or saved by Chicago goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher in the 80thminute.
The Courage would finally find the second tally in the 86th minute as Dunn sent the ball to an oncoming Mewis who struck a laser shot from 25 yards out into the upper 90 to beat Naeher and fix the result at 2-0.
The NC Courage will remain in Portland as they face the Portland Thorns on Saturday in a rematch of the 2017 NWSL Championship. The match is set for 4:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast live on Lifetime.
NCC (4-4-2): Sabrina D’Angelo; Jaelene Hinkle, Abby Erceg ©, Abby Dahlkemper, Merritt Mathias(Heather O’Reilly, 89’); Debinha (Kristen Hamilton, 87’), Denise O’Sullivan, Samantha Mewis, Crystal Dunn; Lynn Williams, Jessica McDonald
Subs not used: Katelyn Rowland, Meredith Speck, Cari Roccaro, Kaleigh Kurtz, Darian Jenkins,
CHI (4-4-2): Alyssa Naeher; Arin Gilliland, Julie Ertz, Katie Naughton, Casey Short; Vanessa DiBernardo (Rosie White, 87’), Morgan Brian, Danielle Colaprico, Alyssa Mautz (Michele Vasconcelos, 82’); Sam Kerr, Yuki Nagasato
Subs not used:Nikki Stanton, Emily Boyd, Summer Green, Brooke ELby, Sarah Gorden
NCC: Jessica McDonald (Crystal Dunn, 5’), Samantha Mewis (Crystal Dunn, 86’)
NCC: Merritt Mathias 72’