HERRIMAN, Utah – Even the best teams in the league and the world are mortal.
Just ask the North Carolina Courage.
The two-time defending champion of the National Women’s Soccer League was ushered out of the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup via a 1-0 loss to the Portland Thorns in the quarterfinals.
Portland Thorns goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom kept a relentless Courage attack out of the net with eight saves.
The Courage out shot the Thorns, 21-10.
Rookie Morgan Weaver scored her first professional goal in her first game.
“We know how to win and we know how to shutout games,” Courage captain Abby Erceg said. “But, losing, you can still learn a lot from it as well. For us, I think this last game’s going to teach us a lot.”
In the first minute, Lynn Williams came knocking on the door. Williams created space using her speed and sent a cross right past Eckerstrom. Kristen Hamilton nearly connected on the back end of the cross but could not get her foot on the ball.
In the 28th minute, Williams cracked a shot from close range that Eckerstrom sent up into the air before saving.
A cut on her forehead after a player-to-player collision still did not stop Williams. One minute after being bandaged, Williams found herself in the box, taking another shot of the four shots she got off in the first half. The Courage ended the half having taken 12 shots overall, but the match remained scoreless.
In the 68th minute, despite the Courage having taken twice as many shots as Portland, the Thorns scored. Weaver made a run into the box on a play that looked to be nearly dead. She was played the ball last minute and easily put the ball in the net for her first professional goal.
Debinha had several chances at an equalizer including a free kick outside the box that Eckerstrom got a hand. In the 86th minute, Eckerstrom came up big again as a streaking Debinha forced a 1 v 1 save.