Courage Pick Up a Point and Are On a Four Match Unbeaten Run
By Jaden Dakwa – LA Soccer Press
The North Carolina Courage were unable to find the back in a scoreless draw against Angel City FC on Saturday evening at WakeMed Soccer Park.
The Courage featured the same starting XI in their previous match against OL Reign on Sunday, May 14th. Tyler Lussi received a start in her first appearance against her former team.
Lussi nearly opened the scoring in the 2nd minute when she had an opportunity that dragged just wide of the post.
Courage forward Rikke Madsen was able to play Lussi through on goal in the 12th minute, Lussi was able to get another effort on goal that did not hit the target.
Courage forward Kerolin played a cross field ball to Lussi in the 14th minute and Lussi hit a strike that Angel City FC goalkeeper DiDi Haracic saved at her near post.
Lussi once again found herself in front of goal during the 23rd minute and she struck an effort towards the near post that was once again saved by Haracic.
In the 48th minute, Kerolin cut inside and hit a backheel flick into the path of an overlapping Narumi Miura. Miura’s shot went past the reach of Haracic and hit off the crossbar.
Kerolin curled an effort from outside the box in the 61st minute that went dragged wide of the post.
Mille Gelj came onto the pitch as a substitute in the 79th minute to replace Tyler Lussi.
Gelj nearly scored only a minute after coming on the pitch when Kerolin cut past a defender and laid the ball off for Gelj. Gelj hit a strike that trickled past the far post.
In the fourth minute of stoppage time, Angel City FC had a chance to find a winner from close range. Savannah McCaskill sent a cross into the box that Alyssa Thompson was able to get a touch to. Katie Johnson almost was able to get a rebound after Casey Murphy produced a save.
The match ended in a draw and has put the Courage on a four match unbeaten run in the NWSL.
North Carolina Courage head coach Sean Nahas spoke about the team’s result and how he wants his squad to be even more decisive in the final third.
“I thought we were really really good in the first half,” Nahas said. “I told the group, we don’t take our chances or half chances. The second half was a little bit erratic, a little bit too stretched. Players standing in areas we didn’t want them to stand. But, credit to them and I think a draw is fair. We could have lost it at the end there. You know, Narumi misses that chance. I think that we can bury those. But, we just have to be a little bit more ruthless in moments.”
Nahas also warned his team of the urge of wanting to “pass it into the goal” and he wants the front three to increase their desire and willingness to score goals.
“I say better in terms of having more of a desire and willingness and fear free of scoring goals,” Nahas said. “We almost want to pass it into the goal. We have to have quick triggers and to me when you are in or around the box and we are not recreating width with the deliveries in behind then it becomes the natural reaction of the opposition to close the central channels.”
North Carolina Courage midfielder Meredith Speck spoke about the team securing a clean sheet in consecutive matches and the mentality the team had from a defensive perspective.
“I think that obviously after Portland, three goals at home, we don’t want to do that,” Speck said. “So we’ve worked a lot on defending, defending in the box, the defending process, and I think that’s something that also just comes down to just the mindset and pride. I think we have a backline who’s willing to work. And, I think our backline is phenomenal. I think Casey has been phenomenal.”
The North Carolina Courage will play their next fixture in the NWSL on Saturday, May 27th when they face Racing Louisville in Louisville, KY at Lynn Family Stadium at 8PM ET.
Dakwa holds a BS in Journalism from Elon University. He writes about North Carolina professional soccer for L.A. Soccer Press. Follow him at @JDakwa on Twitter.