After the first 18 minutes there was nothing but frustration for the North Carolina Courage faithful. Lynn Williams had her penalty kick saved by Lydia Williams in the 8th minute, then she had a chance at redemption when the two were faced up again in the 15th minute. It felt like everything was going wrong again.
It only took three more minutes for a Megan Rapinoe free kick to hit the hands of Katelyn Rowland and for Megan Oyster to score the go-ahead goal for Seattle in the 18th minute.
Everything happened so fast and it cut so deep after we lost for the first time just seven days ago in a similar fashion to Utah Royals FC. After that, it looked like Seattle might pull away, but the team calmed down and took control.
With Abby Dahlkemper and Sam Mewis missing due to injury, the Courage were shorthanded going into Memorial Stadium, but the team had never failed to beat the Reign and they banded together to even the scoreline in the 27th minute. Jaelene Hinkle took the ball down the left side of the pitch and sent a great cross into the box that found the head of Lynn Williams and, as they say, third time’s the charm. All of the sudden the score was knotted at one apiece.
The Courage managed to take the lead in the 33rd minute. Jess McDonald hurried forward and took a long throw into the box before anyone was ready. Lynn Williams looked up and realized the ball was heading toward her in the air. She collected the ball and played it back to Crystal Dunn who slotted it into the left side of goal to take the 2-1 lead. Seattle fans and players were rightfully upset, but the damage had been done and the whistle never blew. The Courage would take their 2-1 lead into the locker room at halftime, thinking that it could have been a bigger lead and knowing that it could have been worse.
The second half whistle blew, and the Reign seemed like they were on a mission until the Courage found possession and made them pay. The Seattle defense cleared the ball out of the 18-yard box and it fell to the feet of Merritt Mathias. Things seemed contained as Rapinoe closed her down, but Mathias made a touch left and left the Reign player in her dust. She looked up and took a cracking shot from distance that curled into the right upper-90 of the goal. The shot wasn’t quite as amazing as her goal against Utah Royals FC earlier in the season, but it felt like a dagger to the Seattle hopeful who now stared up at a two-goal deficit.
The game rolled on as Seattle tried to claw their way back. The Reign made all three substitutions by the time the clock struck 65. Fortunately for the Courage, their counter attack game was on point tonight. Williams dribbled the ball forward and passed to an open Dunn on the left side. She took a touch and then powered the ball past Lydia Williams for the brace. After the goal, Dunn has now scored six goals on the season and sits second in the league behind Portland Thorns FC striker Christine Sinclair.
The game would end with the 4-1 scoreline despite desperate efforts from Seattle to get back into the game and attempts from Dunn to get the hat-trick.
It was an amazing bounce-back game from the Courage, who will now travel to Orlando to face the Orlando Pride next weekend.