North Carolina Continues Dominant Run in 2018
The sixteenth week of the 2018 season concludes with North Carolina Courage sitting sixteen points clear of second place. The Courage recorded two victories during the week, while Seattle Reign FC and the Houston Dash recorded a win and loss.
A series of midweek matchups kicked off Week 16 on Wednesday afternoon. The Courage defeated the Washington Spirit, 2-0, at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park in North Carolina. The Houston Dash topped the Orlando Pride, 3-1, led by a Rachel Daly brace. In the final Wednesday fixture, Seattle Reign FC edged Utah Royals FC, 1-0, at UW Medicine Pitch at Memorial Stadium in Washington.
In the first of three Saturday matchups, North Carolina cruised past Sky Blue FC with a 4-0 road victory at Yurcak Field in New Jersey. Abby Erceg scored the opener in the 15th minute, finishing a header at the back post. Kristen Hamilton recorded her first of two assists on the night, setting up Erceg for the easy finish. A hat-trick from Lynn Williams during the second half led the Courage in the victory. North Carolina tallied 14 shots on target to Sky Blue’s five as the league leaders continue their dominant form during the 2018 NWSL campaign.
North Carolina Courage sits in first place (14/W-1/L-3/T), while Sky Blue FC has yet to record a win (0-12-3).
The Orlando Pride edged Utah Royals FC, 2-1, at Rio Tinto Stadium in the second Saturday fixture. Amy Rodriguez scored the opener eight minutes into the match for Utah Royals FC. A long ball from Utah’s own half was collected by Rachel Corsie at the corner of the 18-yard box. Corsie let the ball bounce and lobbed a pass to a streaking Rodriguez who finished with a one-time touch. Alex Morgan equalized from the penalty spot for the Pride during stoppage time of the first half. The eventual game-winner for Orlando came in the 52nd minute when Ali Krieger sent a driven ball down the right flank to Kristen Edmonds. Utah goalkeeper Abby Smith came off her line, which was read by Edmonds who calmly lobbed a shot into the back of the net.
Orlando Pride is tied for third place (8-6-4), while Utah Royals FC is in sixth (5-6-6).
The Chicago Red Stars defeated Seattle Reign FC, 1-0, led by Sam Kerr who scored in the 87th minute. A goal kick from Seattle Reign goalkeeper Michelle Betos was redirected by Chicago midfielder Yuki Nagasato into the path of Kerr who took a touch into the 18-yard box and calmly finished. Despite taking a total of 13 shots, Seattle was unable to find the target with just three chances on goal. Chicago recorded 19 shots with six on target and maintained 50.7% possession.
The Red Stars are tied for third place (7-4-7), while Seattle is in second place (8-4-5).
Portland Thorns FC hosted Houston Dash at Providence Park during the lone Sunday matchup. Portland recorded a convincing 3-1 victory in front of 15,327 supporters as the Thorns remain in the hunt for a playoff spot. Portland scored the opener during the 16th minute when a driven ball in the penalty area by Emily Sonnett found Lindsey Horan for the header. A tap-in finish from Horan extended Portland’s lead in the 31st minute following a save from Houston goalkeeper Jane Campbell. Six minutes later Kealia Ohai put the Dash on the scoreboard when a save from Portland goalkeeper Adrianna Franch was directed in her path for the easy finish. In the 48th minute, Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic scored a low strike to the back post with Hayley Raso tallying the assist.
Portland is currently in fifth place (7-5-5), while the Houston Dash is in seventh (5-7-5).
Photo Credit: ISI Photos