Two NC Courage players faced off on Saturday as Stephanie Labbe and Canada took on New Zealand and Abby Erceg. For Canada, it would be a chance to grab a second win after a difficult match against Cameroon. Thanks to goals from Nichelle Prince and Jessie Flemming they would do just that. Labbe’s side taking all three points came at the expense of New Zealand and Courage center back stalwart Abby Erceg. While Labbe hasn’t had much to do in her matches, only facing six total shots, New Zealand has been a different story.
The Football Ferns came into the tournament looking for their first ever World Cup win. So far it has proven elusive as the team has lost both of their matches in France. In the first match, the Kiwis faced a very attack minded Netherlands team and held strong for 90 minutes until an injury time winner found the net in the 90+2nd. It was a particularly heartbreaking result for New Zealand. Their performance was partly a gutty team effort and partly a “WHY IN THE NAME OF STROOPWAFFLES WON’T THE BALL GO IN THE NET?” Unfortunately the goal came at the expense of Erceg who got turned around for just long enough for Jill Roord to find the winner.
It was a moment that betrayed a dominant defensive performance from Erceg who put in a woman of the match effort before the goal.
If there was a hangover from the loss, it may have shown against Canada. New Zealand allowed 24 shots in the game and rather than an unfortunate twist of fate, the 2-0 win for the Canucks seemed like an inevitability. Still, Abby Erceg is an absolute monster of a centerback and if New Zealand can grab a positive from the tournament, getting a win against Cameroon would be a step forward for the team.
For Labbe and Canada, the win sets up a huge match to determine the winner of the group when they face Holland on Thursday. The first place finisher will likely end up on the opposite side of the bracket as the US and with the American women hellbent on kicking everything they see into a soccer net, that will be something both sides want to attain.