The North Carolina Courage defeated Paris Saint-Germain Women in the first-ever match in the inaugural International Champions Cup Women's Tournament. This small tournament is taking place between the Courage, PSG, Olympique Lyonnais Women, and Manchester City Women in Miami, FL. The Courage earned a place in the first-place match with their close 2-1 win over PSG.
The Courage score all three goals
The match had two main storylines coming in. The Courage were missing six players because of the concurrent Tournament of Nations, while PSG was mostly whole but wasn't in regular season form. Those two themes dictated the match almost perfectly.
Shortly after the opening whistle blew it was clear which team was in the midst of their season. North Carolina controlled the ball, pressed high up the field, and forced PSG to make numerous bad turnovers. With the sustained pressure and no chance for Paris to find their bearings, Courage defender Kaleigh Kurtz was able to play the ball forward to Jess McDonald who placed a perfect near-post shot past PSG goalkeeper Katarzyna Kiedrzynek. It took just 19 minutes for the Courage to find their opening goal.
There was a brief hydration break at the 30-minute mark, and that short reprieve was enough to get PSG back on solid ground. For the next 15 minutes the Courage faced a PSG side in full control of the match. At the 40 minute mark, the ball was dribbled down the left side of the field against the Courage defense. The PSG winger sent a beautiful cross into the box that Kurtz tried to head out over the end line, but instead she redirected the ball on frame at her own goal. Courage goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland was able to get a glove on the ball, but she couldn't stop the goal. The game went into halftime 1-1.
Both teams came out of the locker room a bit flat for the second half. The Courage were unable to maintain possession with PSG locking their fullbacks deep in their own end, and PSG was never able to pick their shot quickly enough. On numerous occasions, it looked like PSG would get a cracking shot on goal, but they waited too long and the shot would be blocked by a Courage defender. With time running down, the fitness of North Carolina gave them an edge. Forward Lynn Williams collected the ball and dribbled past a defender, but her path was blocked. Instead of forcing the issue she turned back, then made a second run at the defender. This time her cross was there, and substitute Darian Jenkins was able to redirect the ball on frame. That goal effectively ended the game, as both sides slumped in the South Florida heat and humidity for the final ten minutes of the match.
On to the final
The North Carolina Courage will face off against Olympique Lyonnais on Sunday at 9:00 pm ET on ESPN2. Lyon, the three-time defending European champion, earned their place in the final with a dominant 3-0 win over Manchester City in the second match of the tournament.
PSG will face off against Man City in the third-place match at 6:15 pm ET. The game may be broadcast on the ICC Women's Tournament FaceBook page, but that is not yet confirmed.