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Courage clinch NWSL Shield with a 2-1 win over Thorns FC
The Courage improve to 15-1-4
Lynn Williams scored a brace on the night. (Photo credit:
Lynn Williams scored a brace on the night. (Photo credit:

The North Carolina Courage clinched the 2018 NWSL Shield on Sunday night with a 2-1 win over Portland Thorns FC in Week 19 play at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina. The Courage have now won their second-straight NWSL Shield.

Lynn Williams scored a brace for the Courage and claimed the lead in the Golden Boot race with ten goals and four assists on the season. Lindsey Horan scored Portland’s only goal, also for ten goals on the year.

The Courage are now 15-1-4 with 49 points and on a seven-game unbeaten streak. The Courage snapped Portland’s three-game winning streak and the Thorns are now 8-6-5 with 29 points.

Williams got her team on the board at home in the 37th minute. The last time Williams and the Courage faced the Thorns, the forward also chipped in a brace on the night.

Courage midfielder McCall Zerboni won the ball from Thorns forward Christine Sinclair in the box which eventually led to a Courage fast break sparked by Debinha in the middle. Debinha caught Portland in transition and found forward Jess McDonald out wide. McDonald played a service into the box where Williams finished it off for her ninth goal of the year.

Not long after Williams scored another one after Courage defender Merritt Mathias served a ball into the box that eventually deflected to the feet of Williams. Williams tapped in her tenth goal of the season in the 45th minute.

The Thorns earned one back in the 49th minute when midfielder Tobin Heath curled in a perfectly crafted free kick to the head of midfielder Lindsey Horan. Horan headed home her tenth goal of the season.

The Courage dominated with 31 shots to Portland’s nine and also held the better of the possession at 51.6% to 48.4%. Williams finished with a game-high ten shots with four on target. She also made two key passes. McDonald and Courage forward Crystal Dunn each finished with five key passes on the night. Defensively the Courage were strong in Mathias’ five tackles won and two interceptions for six gained possessions.

Thorns goalkeeper Adrianna Franch had her work cut out for her, but finished the match with eight saves. Courage goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland made one.

The Courage return to NWSL action on Friday vs. the Red Stars and the Thorns will visit the Orlando Pride on Saturday.

 

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