Misc Soccer News

Courage Knock off Gotham, Celebrate their Injured MVP

NC Courage Acquire Defender Emily Fox in Trade with Racing Louisville

by Fran Stuchbury
April 1, 2024 – National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL)
North Carolina Courage

North Carolina Courage honors MVP Kerolin Nicoli
North Carolina Courage honors MVP Kerolin Nicoli
(North Carolina Courage, Credit: Fran Stuchbury)

The North Carolina Courage defeated the defending National Women’s Soccer League champion NJ/NY Gotham FC 1-0 in front of 5,281 fans at WakeMed Soccer Park on Saturday evening. The North Carolina victory snapped a five-match winless streak against Gotham that included a 2-0 loss at home in the 2023 NWSL Playoff quarterfinals.

Gotham FC lost a key player on their roster when forward Midge Purce tore her ACL in last week’s game against the Portland Thorns.

“It wasn’t pretty,” said Courage Head Coach Sean Nahas. “They’re a good side, and we had to weather the storm a bit, especially late in that half. I felt like the first 15 minutes, we were a bit all over the place. Our press was off. We worked on a few things throughout the week, so the players were prepared to adjust whenever we needed to. Then we settled in and we changed our rotations and movements a little bit.

“What we were trying to do wasn’t working because of what they were doing, so it was sort of a chess match in the beginning part of the game and then it settled in. I’ve been challenging the group all week in terms of learning from last week, in terms of fighting and competing. That last 10 minutes, they put us under an immense amount of pressure and we competed and found a way. For that I’m really proud of the group. The crowd was amazing tonight, definitely lifted us up especially in those later stages, but it’s good to go on the international break with three points under our belt.”

The only goal of the game came in the 44th minute by midfielder Briana Pinto, assisted by Ashley Sanchez.

“I think that was a really good team goal just because it was super compact in the midfield, especially in the first half,” said Pinto. “Gotham was making it really challenging. I think our timing in the box has improved this week.

“(I) like making the near post run and then Ashley (Sanchez) was in the slot and she headed it down and across the frame. It’s just my job to frame the goal and redirect it. I think that’s from back to front, it was just a full team performance.”

Pinto played with Gotham FC in 2021. On December 6, 2021 she was traded to the Courage for $125,000 allocation money.

North Carolina celebrated 2023 NWSL Most Valuable Player, forward Kerolin Nicoli, with a pre-match ceremony. She is still recovering from an…

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