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Courage remain undefeated on the year with a 4-2 win over the Spirit
McCall Zerboni scored a brace in the win
The Courage came from behind to win 4-2 over the Washington Spirit in Week 3. (Photo credit: Brad Smith/isiphotos.com)
The Courage came from behind to win 4-2 over the Washington Spirit in Week 3. (Photo credit: Brad Smith/isiphotos.com)

By Celia Balf

The North Carolina Courage improve to 3-0-0 in 2018 NWSL play after defeating the Washington Spirit 4-2 at Maureen Hendricks Field Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, Maryland on Saturday night. In front of  3,458 fans on a windy evening, there were plenty of goals to go around. Mallory Pugh opened up scoring for the Spirit, followed by three goals from the Courage’s Crystal Dunn and McCall Zerboni. The Spirit then found themselves within just one thanks to Francisca Ordega, yet it was Lynn Williams who came knocking finalizing the game at 4-2.

Both sides entered Week 3 after big wins in Week 2 action. The Spirit were fresh off a 2-0 victory over the Orlando Pride while the Courage rolled in after a 1-0 result over Sky Blue FC. The Courage dominated in shots and shots on goal with 10 on frame to the Spirit’s 3. Pugh’s opening goal for the Spirit was her second on the year. The forward earned Player of the Week honors in Week 2 for her 80th minute stunner against the Orlando Pride. Doing what Pugh does best, she managed to find space in the midfield, dish it off and follow the play through, eventually getting her team on the board early.

After Pugh’s goal, the game opened up from the Courage’s side pressing for the equalizer. Dunn, who made her return to Washington for the first time since playing for them from 2014-2016 leveled the match in the 20th minute. Dunn did great work to follow the play into the box and was able to get off a right-footed volley off a service from Williams from the left flank.

After Dunn opened up scoring for the Courage, Zerboni took note. After a touch from Williams as the two players stood over the ball on a free kick, Zerboni took a right-footed shot in the 24th minute and stole the lead. Zerboni’s finish was to the far left sneaking just past Spirit goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe.

Both teams saw several looks on goal before the half, however after the first 45 the visiting Courage held the lead 2-1.

The second half kicked off in similar fashion to the way the first half began, with a goal. However, this time it was the Courage who shook things up early. In the 48th minute Zerboni finished her second on the night off an assist from Kristen Hamilton.

Zerboni finished the match with a brace and two shots on goal. This was the first 2018 match for the Courage that she has scored. In 2017 for the Courage she finished the year with three goals.

After North Carolina went on a three-goal run, the Spirit responded. In the 54th minute the Spirit made a substitution that sent Joanna Lohman off and Havana Solaun on. Solaun didn’t waste any time coming into the game and found herself in a dangerous position out wide after taking an initial corner kick. Solaun collected the ball after her corner kick was poorly cleared and sent a one-time driven ball across the box. Francisca Ordega was crashing into the box and tapped it in to put the game within one for the Spirit.

The game began to open up offensively for both sides, with opportunities growing as time began to tick away. Lynn Williams, who had been a threat out wide all day combined with Dunn in 66th minute to score the Courage’s fourth goal on night.

Williams collected a long ball from Dunn and dribbled with pace centrally. Drawing all of the Spirit defenders she used her pace to explode through and finished near post. Williams and Dunn each finished the match with a goal and an assist.

Although Bledsoe picked up the loss in goal, she finished the game with six saves. Bledsoe leads the league in saves with 20. On the other end, Sabrina D’Angelo got the three points in net with two saves. Before this game the Courage were the only NWSL team that had yet to concede a goal. The Courage lead the league in goals scored currently with six in three games.

The Courage will have a short break before playing midweek on Wednesday, April 18 against Seattle Reign FC. The Spirit will be back in action on Friday, April 20 against the Thorns.

 

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