The NC Courage were looking to bounce back after a bad 3-1 loss to the Chicago Red Stars last weekend. They would have a better showing against the Royals, but the elusive first win against the Utah side would not come. Ultimately, the game would end 1-1 after an early goal forced North Carolina to try and equalize at home.
North Carolina would line up in the 4-4-2 box once again...
The Courage would give up an early goal to Amy Rodriguez on a break when the forward found just the right seam between the defenders to sneak a shot past Katelyn Rowland.
From there the Royals had a difficult time breaking the Courage press and North Carolina would keep possession, but fail to capitalize. Still, there were chances. The Courage would get one almost immediately after the goal and another in the 37th minute that forced Nichole Barnhardt to make a great save. With the Courage failing to break through the teams would head into the locker rooms with Utah holding a 1-0 lead.
The Courage would begin the second 45 and not be that much more effective at putting shots on target - there were shots, but they were flying more around the goal than at it. It seemed like the story of the first half would continue being told in the second until Elizabeth Eddy opened the scoring thanks to a nice long ball played to Debinha who then flicked it into the path of the midfielder.
That would be how the game would end. Barnhart would make another big save for Utah, but the Courage wouldn’t put the ball in the net to win at home.
Overall, this was a pretty standard game for North Carolina. The team was dangerous and despite not finding a goal prior to almost the 75th minute, Utah was forced to respect their attack. If Barnhart hadn’t made some big plays the game may have ended differently. In the end, with the Courage taking 18 shots but only putting three on frame, her effort made a difference but the failure to put quality shots on frame didn’t do the team any favors. Still, the press was effective and aside from the early goal the backline looked much improved. Perhaps being content with a draw on the road, Utah only had two shots in the whole match.
More frustration for the Courage
It’s always an interesting experience watching the NC Courage. On one hand they shoot the ball a lot and are a ton of fun to watch. On the other, the ball doesn’t go in the net a lot. That’s the nature of soccer since it isn’t basketball, but the team has also done a great job of building the suspense this year. It seems like the Courage either crushe their opponents or waits until past the hour mark to grab a draw or win - or not score at all. With the remaining international players about to join their respective countries, things are going to get more... interesting yet again as NWSL pulls in players on temporary contracts to play through much of the break.
North Carolina has two more matches before the international break with a trip across the country to face the Reign coming before heading to Orlando. The team is currently in 5th place and while a draw at home isn’t the worst result, taking points from a solid Utah team is less than ideal.