Emina Ekic scores powerful free kick to lift Racing Lousville to tie with Chicago Red Stars

American forward Emina Ekic scored on a powerful free kick in the 76th minute to hand Racing Louisville FC a 1-1 draw with visiting Chicago Red Stars in National Women's Soccer League Challenge Cup action on Saturday.

North Carolina Courage doubles up hosts Orlando Pride in NWSL Challenge Cup

American forward Emina Ekic, middle, scored in the 76th minute to help Racing Louisville FC to a 1-1 draw with visiting Chicago Red Stars in NWSL Challenge Cup action on Saturday. (EM Dash-USA Today Sports via Reuters)

Emina Ekic scored a powerful free kick to hand Racing Louisville FC a 1-1 draw with the visiting Chicago Red Stars in National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) Challenge Cup action on Saturday.

Amanda Kowalski scored on the rebound of a long shot by Mallory Pugh to hand Chicago an early 1-0 lead in the seventh minute. Ekic later tied the game in the 76th minute for Louisville.

Bianca St-Georges, of Saint-Charles-Borromée, Que., served an automatic suspension for receiving two yellow cards in previous games and didn't feature for the Red Stars.

Louisville (1-3-1), currently sitting third in the Central division standings with six points, will visit the Houston Dash next Sunday. Chicago (2-2-1), second in the same group with eight points, will play Kansas City on the road next Sunday.

Courage downs Pride

In other Saturday action, North Carolina Courage doubled up hosts Orlando Pride 4-2.

Megan Montefusco scored an own-goal to put North Carolina up 1-0 in the third minute. Defenders Jaelene Daniels and Taylor Smith made it a 3-0 lead before the tenth minute of play.

American forward Darian Jenkins scored twice, once in each half, to get two back for Orlando. But Brazilian striker Debinha added a fourth goal to the visiting side in the 89th for North Carolina's final blow.

Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod, still recovering from a surgery on her right knee, was ruled out for Orlando.

North Carolina remains atop the East division with 11 points and a 3-2-0 unbeaten campaign. They'll host the Washington Spirit next on Saturday.

Orlando (0-1-4) is winless after five games, sitting at the bottom of group A with one point. They'll visit Gotham FC on Saturday.

Created in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NWSL Challenge Cup has remained in the women's pro soccer calendar for a third consecutive year.

The winners of all three divisions and the runner-up with the best campaign will qualify to the semifinals. The final is scheduled for May 7. The 2022 NWSL regular season kicks off on April 29.

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