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OCT 27
3:30 PM ET
ESPN
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Courage move back into first place with 1-0 win over Reign
Lauren Barnes and Christine Nairn made their record 100th NWSL appearances in the match
Courage forward Lynn Williams scored her fourth goal of the season in Week 15 vs. the Reign. (Photo credit: Andy Mead/isiphotos.com)
Courage forward Lynn Williams scored her fourth goal of the season in Week 15 vs. the Reign. (Photo credit: Andy Mead/isiphotos.com)

Lynn Williams scored her fourth goal of the season as the Courage moved back into first place with a 1-0 win at home over Seattle Reign FC on Saturday night in front of 5,249 fans at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina.

 

The Reign were without the NWSL’s leading goal scorer, Megan Rapinoe, as well as Rumi Utsugi because of their participation in the Tournament of Nations, which concluded on Thursday night. But Saturday’s game did mark the return of Jess Fishlock to the field, who suffered a grade 2 MCL sprain in her left knee on July 1 vs. Portland Thorns FC. She was upgraded to questionable on Friday’s injury report before starting in North Carolina.

 

Also on Saturday night, Reign FC defender Lauren Barnes and midfielder Christine Nairn both became the first players to appear in 100 NWSL games. Barnes is the first player to do it with one team, while Nairn has played for both the Reign and Spirit during her NWSL tenure.

 

 

Barnes celebrated her 100th game with a great sliding block on a Williams shot in the 5th minute.

 

 

North Carolina started four players who saw time in the Tournament of Nations, including Abby Dahlkemper, who played every minute in United Sates three games before playing all 90 on Saturday night vs. the Reign. Dahlkemper is the all-time leader in consecutive minutes played, an active streak that seemed likely to come to an end this week, but did not.

 

Williams’ goal game in the 32nd minute after Makenzy Doniak intercepted a clearance by Reign defender Rachel Corsie on the right wing. Doniak dribbled about 20 yards down the field and into the box before passing into the middle of the area. Williams found herself open and ran to the ball, before turning and sending a low right-footed shot into the back of the net. Reign goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer looked like she had a chance to make the save, but could not keep the ball from going over the line.

 

 

The Reign had a few shots to even the score in the second half, but ultimately were unable to score. Rookie Katie Johnson found Fishlock wide open in the box in the 75th minute, but Fishlock’s right-footed shot went well over the bar.

 

 

With the loss, the Reign fell to 6-4-6 and stayed at 24 points. They remain in fourth place, but lost the opportunity to separate themselves from their nearest challengers — Sky Blue FC, the Pride and the Dash.

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