Paul Riley liked what he saw of his North Carolina Courage. (Andy Mead/YCJ Photo)
CARY, N.C. – Goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan stood on her head, but that still wasn’t enough for Sky Blue FC Wednesday night.
Sheridan produced 11 saves as the New Jersey club went down to a 2-0 defeat to the North Carolina Courage at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park.
Lynn Williams and Sam Mewis scored goals for the National Women’s Soccer League leaders, while Katelyn Rowland earned the shutout in her first start this season season.
The Courage earned its fourth shutout of the season and snapped a two-match winless streak before a crowd of 2,383.
“I thought it was a really good, professional performance,” said Carolina head coach Paul Riley, who lives on Long Island. “We talked about a couple of things since the game on Sunday, which was not like us at all. We didn’t press well and had low energy. Tonight, we had high energy and we made it difficult for them.
“It was a good win tonight and we managed the game well. I think we were able to save some legs for the weekend with a quick turnaround.”
The win moved the Courage (5-2-0, 15 points) five points clear of second-place Sky Blue (3-3-1, 10).
Williams opened the scoring in the 20th minute. The forward received a pass from Taylor Smith and placed a 20-yard blast past Sheridan and into the far corner of the net. The goal was her third of the season and second in as many games.
In the 33rd minute, Jessica McDonald nearly added to the Courage lead. McDonald got past the defense for an open look on goal, but her hard-hit ball found the hand of Sheridan, who deflected the shot off the post and away from danger.
The Courage continued to press the goal and struck again in the 41st minute. Mewis scored her second goal of the year to double the lead after slotting home a loose ball in the box from a corner kick.
In the second half, the Courage nearly added to its lead several times throughout the night, but the excellent play of Sheridan kept Sky Blue within striking distance.
Sheridan denied Smith in the 51st minute with a diving save and came out of her box to stop Debinha in the 57th minute.
In the 84th minute, Ashley Hatch nearly opened her NWSL scoring account, but Sheridan made a fingertip save.