CARY, N.C. – NJ/NY Gotham FC dropped a 2-0 decision to the North Carolina Courage in its opening match of the 2022 Challenge Cup at WakeMed Soccer Park.

The Courage scored a goal in each half to snap a three-game skid against Gotham.

“Obviously, we’re disappointed in the result,” Gotham FC head coach Scott Parkinson said in a statement. “We’ll use this game as a foundation to push from here. Our quality needs to be a little bit better and we didn’t quite have our legs under us. We’ll dust ourselves off and get ready for Washington next week.”

The teams traded opportunities in the opening 15 minutes. Taylor Smith got her head for a strike that missed wide in the seventh minute. Just over five minutes later, Gotham countered when Caprice Dydasco connected with Paige Monaghan, but her far-side header was off the mark.

The Courage broke through in the 22nd minute when Carson Pickett used her left foot to cross a ball through traffic to Brianna Pinto, who converted a header to the bottom left corner to put North Carolina up, 1-0.

North Carolina doubled the advantage in the 51st minute off a corner. Malia Berkely one-touched a pass to Abby Erceg for a shot that snuck under a diving goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris.

Gotham FC saw four players make their National Women’s Soccer League debuts. Cameron Tucker earned a starting nod at forward, while Nicole Baxter, Taryn Torres and Ellie Jean entered the contest as substitutions. The match also featured the club debuts for Harris, Ali Krieger and Kumi Yokoyama.

Gotham FC visits the Washington Spirit in its next Challenge Cup match on Friday at 7:30 p.m. (Paramount+).