Evelyne Viens saved her heroics until  the 11th hour. (Photo courtesy of Gotham FC)

MONTCLAIR, N.J. – Evelyne Viens scored two minutes into stoppage time to boost NJ/NY Gotham FC to a 4-3 victor over the North Carolina Courage in the NWSL Challenge Cup at MSU Soccer Park Tuesday night.

Viens converted a close-range attempt to snap a 3-3 deadlock as undefeated Gotham FC (2-0) took the East group lead.

“I think it was a very exciting one for fans, for neutrals,” Gotham FC head coach Freya Coombe said. “We knew it was going to be a moment where we could look to counter-attack and we could look to build up our possession. With the return some players from international duty, we knew we could put out a more attacking front line and then also have really good depth for the game changers to come in and they did make a big difference.”

The hosts drew first blood on a breakaway via the first of two goals buy forward Midge Purce. The attack began with a pass from the Gotham defensive third. Purce received the ball in stride and dribbled upfield for a goal in the 18th minute.

The Courage answered with a goal as Debinha slipped a pass out wide to Jessica McDonald. Beating a defender and cutting the ball to her left foot, McDonald played in a cross that deflected off of Gotham’s Jennifer Cudjoe and to the feet of fellow defender Mandy Freeman. A poor clearance attempt from Freeman landed in the path of Debinha, who buried her first goal of the Challenge Cup to equalize in the 21st minute.

Two minutes later, McDonald was on the ball again, this time running onto a pass from Lynn Williams. Taking a single touch, McDonald placed a ball across the box and hitting Debinha on the far post. Debinha added second goal to give the Courage a 2-1 lead with 23 minutes gone.

The Courage’s lead turned out to be temporary, as a streaking run down the right sideline from Paige Monaghan was just enough to slot a cross to Purce. On her first touch, Purce tapped in another to tie the game at 2-2 in the 26th minute, but not without some deliberation as to whether the goal was onside.

In the 31st minute, Gotham captain Carli Lloyd tallied a goal to render the score 3-2 in favor of the hosts to end the first half. Lloyd, who has not appeared in a match for Gotham FC since 2019, recently celebrated breaking 300 caps with the U.S. women’s national team.

Five minutes into the second half McDonald flicked a header over the fingertips of Gotham goalkeeper Didi Haracic to tie the game at 3-3 early into the second half. Adding her name to the scoresheet for a second consecutive match, McDonald has had a hand in five of the six goals scored by the Courage during the competition.