Crystal Dunn tallied her first goal of the year for the Courage. (Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports)
HERRIMAN, Utah – The North Carolina Courage remained perfect in the preliminary round of the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup with a 2-0 victory over Sky Blue FC on Monday night.
Sam Mewis and Rockville Centre, N.Y. native Crystal Dunn scored their first goal of the year for the Courage (12 points), which captured the top seed in the competition.
Sky Blue FC (1-2-1, 4 points), which scored twice and allowed three goals in the preliminary round, finished in seventh place
Early into the first half, the Courage were rewarded a corner kick that was headed down by Lynn Williams and into the path of captain Abby Erceg. Erceg tapped a pass to Mewis, who turned on the ball to drive a shot into the lower left corner of the net. The goal gave the Courage a 1-0 advantage as Mewis logged her first goal of the Challenge Cup tournament.
“Continuing to be dangerous on those set pieces is going to be key for us,” Mewis said, adding that the set piece “just wasn’t working out and then we switched it up and it went in.”
The Courage continued pressing Sky Blue’s defense as the first half wore on. In the 27th minute, Dunn tore down the field to create a scoring chance for the Courage, her shot narrowly knocked out of bounds by goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan. As the half drew to a close, Debinha fired a shot off of a breakaway, only to witness another one of Sheridan’s five saves in the first half.
Lynn Williams beat Sky Blue defender Imani Dorsey up the right side in the 56th minute and fed a pass to Dunn, who was sprinting towards the box. Dunn cut the ball inside and to her left foot, scoring to extend the Courage lead by another goal and notching her first goal of the Challenge Cup.
Keeper Katelyn Rowland recorded her second clean sheet of the tournament, making one save to bring her Challenge Cup save total to three.
Monday night’s game marked the celebration of Pride Night at Zions Bank Stadium, with players on both the North Carolina Courage and Sky Blue FC sporting “Be True” shirts with rainbow lettering.
The Courage will take on Portland Thorns FC in the quarterfinals on Friday at 12:30 p.m. ET.
Sky Blue will face the Washington Spirit Saturday at 10:30 a.m. ET.