Courage Extend Unbeaten Run to Four Games
By Jaden Dakwa – LA Soccer Press
A first half goal from Tyler Lussi handed the North Carolina Courage three points in a match against OL Reign on Mother’s Day, May 14th at WakeMed Soccer Park.
The Courage started the match with a starting eleven that was unchanged since their last fixture against Portland Thorns on May 6th.
OL Reign’s Jess Fishlock struck an effort towards goal in the opening minute of the match that could not find the target.
In the 7th minute, Courage captain Denise O’Sullivan struck a shot that ended up flying wide of the post after a nice spell of attacking play from the team.
The Courage were able to put together some cohesive combination play once again in the 9th minute that ended with forward Tyler Lussi striking an effort on goal. Lussi’s effort dragged slightly wide of the post.
North Carolina Courage forward Kerolin was able to score an effort on goal after the ball fell to her from a corner in the 14th minute. The goal was eventually ruled out after a VAR check due to an offsides call.
O’Sullivan lost the ball in her own half in the 25th minute and OL Reign midfielder Jess Fishlock was able to play a ball into the path of teammate and USWNT international Megan Rapinoe. Rapinoe’s shot on goal rolled just wide of the post.
In the 34th minute, Courage forward Rikke Madsen was able to pick up the ball in her own half and play a through ball into the path of Tyler Lussi. Lussi was able to take the ball in stride and coolly finish past OL Reign goalkeeper Phallon Tullis-Joyce.
North Carolina Courage’s Malia Berkely was able to register a shot on target in the 42nd minute after the ball fell to her from a free kick, but Tullis-Joyce collected the ball at her near post.
Kerolin found the back of the net again in stoppage time of the first half after she headed a ball sent in from Narumi Miura. Kerolin’s goal was ruled out once again due to an offsides call.
OL Reign defender Sofia Huerta sent a ball into the box in the 66th minute towards the back post that Jordyn Huitema was able to get her head to. Courage goalkeeper Casey Murphy made a leaping save to keep the Courage’s lead.
OL Reign’s Megan Rapinoe received a free kick in a great area and had an effort on goal during the 85th minute that flew over the crossbar.
The Courage were able to hold onto their 1-0 lead and the team is currently unbeaten throughout their last four matches.
North Carolina Courage head coach Sean Nahas believes the team is still learning how to be more disciplined, but produced a solid performance.
“I thought it was a really good performance and the first half I thought we were extraordinary,” Nahas said. “I thought the second half we were average. You let them back in, we didn’t take care of the ball well enough. We defended in isolation rather than as a unit. I think they have something to do with that and our lack of discipline. Sometimes, we have to learn that we don’t have to press all the time.”
North Carolina Courage forward Tyler Lussi spoke about her goal and what happened in the buildup of her receiving a chance on goal.
“Yeah, it was on the left side,” Lussi said. “Rikke had a great turn, drove forward, saw the open space and slipped a perfect ball through to me. Then, I just ran on to it. I told myself to be calm, cool, and collected. And, just pass into the net. And, it went in.”
North Carolina Courage defender Malia Berkely spoke about the team’s development and her center back partnership between Kaleigh Kurtz.
“I think each game brings new problems and things to work on and talk about,” Berkeley said. “So as we’re working through new issues, we’re talking outside the field and on the field, and just working through what we think the best solution is. Then, you can kind of tell that it’s getting better and better each game. We’re really coming together. We’re becoming more cohesive all across the field.”
Lussi spoke about the special feeling of having her mom attend the match on Mother’s Day and seeing her score.
“Honestly, it was amazing,” Lussi said. “I like gave my mom the heart and everything and then dedicated that goal to her and the team. Yeah, it was really special to have her come.”
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.