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NC Courage 0-0 Sky Blue FC: Lots of rain, lots of shots

Goals though? Not so much

The NC Courage had their first game... for at least a while without four starters that will be representing the United States in France during the World Cup. The upcoming matches will test the team’s depth, but the Courage are capable of fielding a lineup even without four starters that most teams would be happy starting week in and week out.

North Carolina opened the game perhaps a little nervy with Kaleigh Kurtz sending a line breaking pass that didn’t quite find its mark in the 3rd minute and the visitors won possession. Sky Blue midfielder Imani Dorsey carried the ball forward and was through on goal, however Stephanie Labbe charged off of her line and the keeper blocked her shot over the net.

The team’s best chance in the half came in the 20th minute when a long ball played by keeper Kailen Sheridan was recovered by the Courage and Kristen Hamilton sprinted up field and sent a through ball that split the defenders and found the feet of Lynn Williams - the forward would fire a shot that seemed sure to put the Courage up 1-0, but it hit the bar and the rebound was cleared by Sky Blue.

If there was concern that the Courage would have difficulty creating chances, that was not an issue in the first half. The team fired 16 shots in the first half with two on goal and another two hitting the post. As a result, the teams would head into the half locked at zero.

As the second half got underway, the shots stopped, but the rain and lightning didn’t. The teams went back to the locker rooms in the 53rd minute. Before that Savannah McCaskill came on for Jennifer Hoy as Sky Blue looked for more in the attack. Nearly 90 minutes later the teams would again take the field as the weather cleared. As the teams restarted play, the Courage would make their first sub with forward Julia Spetsmark making way for Leah Puritt.

It seemed like the Courage used their time in the delay wisely as they didn’t miss a beat on the re-start. A shot from Pruitt announced her presence in the match and at the hour mark a looping ball played to Debinha had the Brazilian showing off her technical ability as she created space for a shot with a nifty backheel, she would loft a try toward the upper 90, but it would drift over the bar for a goal kick.

The visitors would respond with a chance of their own with McCaskill striking a shot off of the volley that forced Labbe to make a save. The Courage would continue to pepper the Sky Blue net with shots, but a goal did not seem to be in the works. For their part, the visitors were very effective at keeping their defense organized.

In the 85th minute Heather O’Riley checked into the match for Kristen Hamilton as the Courage kept looking for a goal. There would be a big chance after she joined the fray, but it would come for the visitors. In the 90th minute Savannah McCaskill passed to Dorsey inside the Courage 18. Labbe would rush the midfielder, but not before her shot seemed sure to be headed into the net. That is until at the last second when Merritt Mathias cleared the ball off the line to keep the game at 0-0.

That is how the teams would leave the field. Again, the Courage created tons of chances but a good defensive effort, and perhaps a lot of rain, helped the visitors take a point. The Courage will travel to Chicago to take on the Red Stars as they look to stay undefeated in 2019.