Soccer

North Carolina Courage claim NWSL Challenge Cup with close win over Washington Spirit

The North Carolina Courage completed their undefeated run through pre-season competition with a 2-1 victory over the Washington Spirit to win the NWSL Challenge Cup on Saturday in Cary, N.C.

Courage's final score was own goal from Spirit in 70th minute of 2-1 victory

North Carolina Courage celebrate with the NWSL Challenge Cup trophy after defeating the Washington Spirit 2-1 on Saturday at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina. (Lewis Gettier/USA TODAY Sports via Reuters)

The North Carolina Courage completed their undefeated run through pre-season competition with a 2-1 victory over the Washington Spirit to win the NWSL Challenge Cup on Saturday in Cary, N.C.

In what was a back-and-forth match, with both sides missing their share of scoring opportunities, it was the Courage who benefitted from a Spirit own goal in the 70th minute to take the lead and eventually emerge victorious.

Just a minute after Washington's Ashley Hatch missed a chance to open the scoring, Courage forward Kerolin Nicoli proceeded to capitalize with a goal of her own after cutting inside and firing a low shot past Spirit goalkeeper Aubrey Kingsbury in the 10th minute.

North Carolina kept the pressure coming with opportunities from Emily Gray and Debinha less than 10 minutes later, but the first shot was stopped by Kingsbury and the latter hit the inside post as they were unable to build on the lead.

WATCH | Courage claim tightly-contested Challenge Cup final over Spirit:

North Carolina Courage win NWSL Challenge Cup Final

5 months ago
Duration 2:56
A Washington own goal off a North Carolina corner handed the Courage a 2-1 win on Saturday.

Following a couple of missed chances from star forward Trinity Rodman, Hatch was able to score the equalizer in the 35th minute off a perfectly placed pass from Rodman into the box.

Both sides continued exchanging scoring chances as North Carolina's Carson Pickett missed on a shot from distance and Washington's Ashley Sanchez missed on an opportunity of her own early in the second half.

In the 70th minute, Pickett put a corner kick in play in front of the Spirit's net that was ultimately put into the net by Washington defender Taylor Aylmer, giving North Carolina a 2-1 lead.

Unable to put anything on the board to tie the game up, the own goal proved to be too costly a mistake for Washington to recover from.

The Challenge Cup was initially brought to life in 2020, allowing the NWSL to become the first U.S. professional sports league to return to action that year. It has since continued on as a pre-season tournament for the league, drawing rave reviews and viewership.

WATCH | Canadian defender Vanessa Gilles on Angel City FC's NWSL debut:

Canadian defender Vanessa Gilles on Angel City FC's NWSL debut

5 months ago
Duration 5:39
Vanessa Gilles and Angel City FC embark on their inaugural NWSL regular season campaign on April 29th. The Canadian gold medallist and new Los Angeles arrival joins CBC's Signa Butler to talk about her move and the season ahead.

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now