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NC Courage 5 - 2 Houston Dash: Goals! Goals! Goals!

Kristen Hamilton has firmly inserted herself in the Golden Boot race tonight.

The North Carolina Courage left quite the impression on the Houston Dash this evening in the National Women’s Soccer League. Kristen Hamilton scored four goals while Lynn Williams found the back of the net again for the first time in five games to help the NC Courage to a 5-2 win over the visiting Dash.

The defense stayed behind in the locker room during the first half

The final score may have been comprehensive but in the first half, the Dash kept up with the pace that the Courage had started with. Although the Courage took a 2-0 lead within the first 20 minutes of the game, Houston were never out of it. The first goal of the game came in the sixth minute as Merritt Mathias got forward before putting in a low cross into the box for a teammate to get on the end of. Kristen Hamilton made a smart move inside the area to lose her marker and slid in to score her fourth goal of the season.

Hamilton popped up again in the 18th minute when the Courage played their way out of pressure before Jaelene Hinkle sent the ball long for Hamilton to chase. The 27-year old outpaced Claire Polkinghorne, cut inside and then looped her shot over Jane Campbell’s attempted save.

The lead didn’t last long as a bad giveaway near their own goal allowed Houston to create a chance in transition and Kristie Mewis pulled one back for the Dash with a strong left-footed finish.

Courage fans would’ve been forgiven for thinking the game was done and dusted in the 31st minute when Houston coughed up the ball in midfield and Lynn Williams raced away before finishing well past Campbell.

However, Kyah Simon and the Dash had other ideas and put the game back into contention just before half time.

The Courage run away with the game

The half time break worked out better for the hosts than it did for the visitors. Paul Riley ensured that his team tightened up at the back while still creating chance after chance for themselves. Had Williams had her shooting boots on tonight, she would have had just as many goals as Hamilton finished her night off with. Instead, it was Hamilton who continued to find the back of the net throughout the second half. She completed her hat-trick in the 54th minute after Williams picked her out and she left Allysa Chapman on the ground with a quick turn.

Hamilton wasn’t done. Debinha, who looks like she hasn’t lost a step since coming back from the World Cup, played the ball out to the flank where Hamilton had taken up position. The Courage’s No. 23 then quickened her pace to get inside the penalty area before finishing low into the near corner.

That was the final goal of the game but the Courage kept showing throughout the game how dangerous a team they can be even though they’re still missing a lot of their fire power in Jessica MacDonald, Crystal Dunn and Sam Mewis who, along with Abby Dahlkemper, will be playing in the Women’s World Cup final this Sunday. In fact, that the Courage have started to find themselves again while all of those players are still away on national team duty should be a big worry for the rest of the NWSL. This team could go on and quite possibly make the NWSL Championship, which would be something to behold as the final is being held in Cary, North Carolina this year.