CARY, N.C. – Jessica McDonald scored twice to help the North Courage close out a stellar regular-season with its 15th win of 2019 as they defeated Sky Blue FC in the National Women’s Soccer League regular-season finale , 3-2.
McDonald scored the team’s 54th goal of the season, breaking the NWSL regular-season goal record set by the club in 2018. The Courage will move on to the NWSL Semifinals on Oct. 20 as they will host Megan Rapinoe and Reign FC.
“The foundation of the team is strong,” head coach Paul Riley said. “We built it brick by brick. A lot of times the bricks that have been thrown at us we’ve used to build a foundation in the last four years and I think we’re a better team now than we were a year ago.”
McDonald started the scoring on Fan Appreciation Night at Sahlen’s Stadium. In the 16th minute, McCall Zerboni fed McDonald the ball through two Sky Blue defenders. McDonald’s first shot was blocked but the forward stayed with it, netting the ball on the second attempt.
Sky Blue FC and Carli Lloyd answered quickly. Only 10 minutes later, Lloyd buried a long shot past Katelyn Rowland. Raquel Rodriguez had the assist.
The Courage immediately bounced back earning a corner kick. Heather O’Reilly took the corner that bounced around the box before landing at Cari Roccaro’s feet. Roccaro played the ball slightly wide to Debinha, who chipped the ball over Kailen Sheridan and into the net.
In the 81st minute, McDonald tallied the NC Courage’s record-breaking goal as she collected a pass from Debinha and cooly tapped it into the back of the net.
Second-half substitute Domi Richardson got a goal back in the 86th minute when she saw an opening and took a shot from way outside the box.