Sky Blue FC suffered its 12th defeat of the NWSL season. (Jeffrey Auger Photo)

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — The North Carolina Courage took one giant step into the National Women’s Soccer League playoffs Saturday night while Sky Blue FC took another little step toward being eliminated from postseason contention and finishing with the worst record in league history.

Sky Blue FC (0-12-3, 3 points)) was trounced by the league leaders, 4-0, at Yurcak Field as Carolina (45) improved to 14-1-3.

“We moved the ball well in the first half, but we were in a position where we had to be much more attack-oriented in the second half,” Sky Blue FC head coach Denise Reddy said. “It was a bit risky to send numbers forward like we did in the second half, especially when North Carolina is such a good team in transition. However, it was worth taking the chance because we have to show a willingness to go for it in those types of situations.”

The Courage opened the scoring in the 15th minute. That series started off with a corner kick that was knocked to the top of the penalty area and sent to Kristen Hamilton on the end line. Hamilton delivered a cross towards the far post, where Abby Erceg headed home the goal for a 1-0 edge.

Sky Blue FC nearly got on the board in the 25th minute when Carli Lloyd flicked a ball for Savannah McCaskill inside the penalty area, but goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland made a point-blank save.

Ten minutes later, Sky Blue FC created another scoring chance, as McCaskill played a ball for Sarah Killion as she ran into the box. Killion timed her run well enough to put a header on frame, but her attempt struck the post.

In the second half, the Courage put this one out of reach as Lynn Williams registered a hat-trick.

Hamilton found Williams in the 56th minute to make it 2-0. Debinha hooked Williams up in the 72nd minute to place a 3-0 tally on the scoreboard. The final goal for Williams came in the 89th minute on an unassisted finish.

Sky Blue FC will return to Yurcak Field Saturday, July 21, to host Portland Thorns FC for a 7 p.m. kickoff.