Jessica McDonald scored a goal for North Carolina. (Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)
MIAMI, Fla. – Despite missing six regulars due to commitments to their respective national teams for the 2018 Tournament of Nations, the North Carolina Courage defeated Paris St. Germain Femenines, 2-1 in the opening match of the inaugural Women’s International Champions Cup at Hard Rock Stadium Thursday night.
Jessica McDonald and Darian Jenkins each scored once with Jenkins’ game-winner being her first professional goal.
The Courage, directed by Bay Shore, N.Y. resident Paul Riley, will face either Olympique Lyonnais or Manchester City in the championship game on Sunday at 9 p.m. ET (ESPN2).
First-team regulars Abby Dahlkemper, Crystal Dunn (Rockville Centre, N.Y.), Merritt Mathias, Samantha Mewis, and McCall Zerboni were all named to the U.S. women’s national team’s 23-player roster for the 2018 Tournament of Nations. In addition, Debinha was called up for Brazil.
On a very hot Florida night, the Courage dictated the tempo for the opening 30 minutes, peppering the PSG goalkeeper with a flurry of shots. Abby Erceg almost got on the board in the fifth minute trying to head home a cross, while McDonald and Lynn Williams saw chances 10 minutes later.
In the 19th minute, McDonald received a perfectly weighted pass from defender Kaleigh Kurtz and took it all the way into the box, the University of North Carolina product looked up and slotted the ball far post for the 1-0 lead.
As the half wore on, the reigning Coupe de France winners started getting numbers in the Courage half of the pitch, applying a little more pressure and taking advantage of the flanks. The tactic finally paid off as PSG forward Jordyn Huitema pressured Kurtz into a clearance that went the wrong way of the post to tie up the game 1-1.
It only took Jenkins 10 minutes from entering the game to find the back of the net. Williams brought the ball down the right flank and sent a low cross into the box looking for the oncoming UCLA product who slotted it past goalkeeper Katarzyna Kiedrzynek for the game-winning tally in the 84th minute.