The North Carolina Courage punched their ticket to the playoffs with six games left for them to play as they shut out the winless Sky Blue FC 4-0. Lynn Williams had a second-half hat trick, but Abby Erceg had the game-winning goal in the 15th minute to give the Courage all three points. They now extend their lead at the top of the table to 16 points with a 14-1-3 record and 45 points overall. Sky Blue sits at 3 points with a 0-12-3 record.
North Carolina scores early thanks to Erceg
A Courage corner kick was headed out of the box then sent down the right side. Kristen Hamilton, who had two assists, kept the ball from going out, crossing it into the box to Erceg who headed it down and into goal. The goal for center back Erceg was her second of the season, fourth in her NWSL career.
Since their lone loss to the Utah Royals on June 23, North Carolina has now scored 17 goals in their last five games and have allowed just two goals in the stretch shutting out their opponents three times. With a win and a Seattle Reign loss in Week 17, the Courage could earn the supporters shield before the month of August.
Williams’ hat trick puts her in second for golden boot
The 2016 NWSL MVP and Golden Boot winner has propelled to second place in this season golden boot race after adding three goals in the second half of the match. She now has eight goals this season along with four assists, putter her one goal behind current leader and 2017 NWSL MVP and golden boot winner Sam Kerr of the Chicago Red Stars.
The first goal came in the 56th minute during the run of play. Debinha sent a through ball to Hamilton who forced Sky Blue keeper Kailen Sheridan off her line. Hamilton passed the ball to Williams who put it in the back of the net.
16 minutes later, Debinha would earn herself an assist for Williams. The Brazilian-international lofted the ball in front of the back line where Williams caught up with it, dribbling into the box and putting it past Sheridan’s hand for her second goal of the night, making it 3-0.
The final goal of the match came in the 89th minute off of defensive error. A slow pass back to Sheridan allowed Williams to get to it forcing Sheridan off her line. Williams beat the keeper and walked the ball into the back of the net for the final score of 4-0.
North Carolina travels west to take on the Royals Friday July 20. That match is scheduled for kick off at 8:00 p.m. MT. Sky Blue, still searching for their first win, will host the Portland Thorns Saturday July 21. Kick off for that match is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET and both matches will be streamed live on go90.