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North Carolina Courage, Chicago Red Stars draw in semifinal rematch

The reigning champions of the NWSL, the North Carolina Courage, took on the Chicago Red Stars and began their season with 1-1 draw.
Courage and Red Stars

Cary, North Carolina (April 14, 2019) — For the last two seasons, Samantha Kerr has led the NWSL in scoring. Last season, she led the league with 16 goals. On Saturday, opening her second season with the Chicago Red Stars, Kerr opened up her scoring account.

North Carolina Courage, Chicago Red Stars draw in semifinal rematch

Kerr scored the opening goal of the Chicago Red Stars clash with the reigning NWSL champions, the North Carolina Courage. The last time these two sides met was in Portland, where they were forced to play their NWSL semifinal match. A hurricane hitting the coast of the Carolinas prevented the match to be played in North Carolina.

This time, the story was different.

Instead of a victory for the Courage, the two sides battled to a 1-1 draw. Kerr began the scoring with a goal in the 26th minute. Yuki Nagasato, who was one of Chicago’s most consistent members of the midfield last season, assisted the goal.

However, Chicago didn’t keep the lead.

Despite featuring on defense for the U.S. Women’s National Team, Crystal Dunn doesn’t stray from the attack for the Courage. Instead, she features in the attacking midfield. Paul Riley doesn’t tailor to what Jill Ellis, USWNT head coach, wants. Instead, he does what he knows works.

Putting Dunn in an attacking position works, as she scored the equalizing goal in the 66th minute. Her national team partner and striker Jessica McDonald recorded the assist.

In front of 4,053 at WakeMed Soccer Park, the Courage began their season with one point. Last year, the Courage were close to keeping an unbeaten record throughout the regular season. However, the North Carolina club had one loss to the Utah Royals FC.

Three Takeaways

  1. Labbé barely tested in first Courage match: Despite letting a Kerr goal slip by her, Stephanie Labbé was hardly tested in goal. Kerr was the only player that registered a shot on goal for the Red Stars. In total, only two players recorded shots the whole match, with Kerr taking three other shots and defender Arin Wright taking two. However, those were not registered on goal.
  2. Pruitt makes her Courage debut: With a team that has depth like North Carolina — and star power — it’s hard to see young players make an immediate impact. Darian Jenkins had some good looks last season and moved on to more minutes with the Reign FC. Leah Pruitt made her Courage debut in the 71st minute, subbing on for midfielder McCall Zerboni. With the amount of players that will be gone for the World Cup, the Courage will need someone like Pruitt.
  3. Alyssa Naeher comes up big: Facing off against big names like Lynn Williams, Jess McDonald and Dunn — mostly all USWNT players — it could be easy to imagine a goalkeeper being flustered. However, Naeher made five strong saves and cut off other opportunities for the Courage.

What’s Next? 

  • North Carolina: The Courage have a short week before they jump right back into action. North Carolina will host the Orlando Pride on Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET at WakeMed Soccer Park.
  • Chicago: The Red Stars have another tough task on their calendar. On Saturday, the Red Stars will face off against the Portland Thorns FC in Chicago at 3:30 p.m. ET.


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