North Carolina Courage Defeat Houston Dash 4-1
The North Carolina Courage defeat the Houston Dash 4-1 for their second consecutive win. Photo:

The North Carolina Courage handed the Houston Dash its first loss of the season.

Courage dominate first half with several great chances

The Courage got their first chance of the match in the 9th minute. USWNT player Crystal Dunn started a counterattack and played a ball through to teammate Lynn Williams to set her up in a 1-on-1 situation. However, Dash goalkeeper Jane Campbell was quick off her line to snuff the ball.

In the 11th minute, English and Dash striker Rachel Daly put the ball into the net but was in an offside position. The Courage followed with a chance seven minutes later. Abby Dahlkemper, the NWSL Defender of the Year from two seasons ago, took a corner kick that found the head of Abby Erceg, the Defender of the Year last season. Her header was cleared by a bicycle kick from Daly.

In the 20th minute, striker Jessica McDonald forced two consecutive saves from Campbell. Eleven minutes later, she earned a penalty kick when Dash debutante Satara Murray fouled her in the box. Unfortunately, for penalty-taker Williams, Campbell dove to her left and caught her shot. It was the third penalty kick Campbell faced this season and also the third one her opponents failed to convert.

The Courage continued to attack relentlessly. Dunn took a low, hard shot in the box in the 42nd minute to test Campbell. They finally took the lead in stoppage time. Dahlkemper crossed the ball into the box and Erceg headed it toward goal. Dash defender Amber Brooks failed to clear it, and Williams knocked it in for her second goal of the season and fortieth of her NWSL career.

Courage maintain control in second half

Dunn came into the second half of the match hungry for her league-leading fourth goal of the season. In the 54th minute, she half-volleyed a shot just over the crossbar. Six minutes later, she got that goal in the form of a shross that arched over Campbell's fingertips.

Then, in the 69th minute, Brazilian midfielder Debinha, who was playing her first minutes of the season, made history by scoring the one hundredth goal in her team's history. A cross into the box by left back Jaelene Hinkle was cleared to her feet, and she blasted a shot into the goal.

However, the Courage did not stop there. Rookie Leah Pruitt was looking for her first career goal. In the 75th minute, Dunn laid the ball off to her in the box, and she took a hard shot that Campbell denied. Her determination paid off a minute later when she flicked in a cross from Williams into the net with her head.

Leah Pruitt scored for the Courage in the 76th minute. Photo:
Leah Pruitt scored for the Courage in the 76th minute. Photo:

In the 85th minute, Debinha was looking for a brace as she took a free kick that Campbell tipped away. A minute later, the Dash found a consolation goal through Daly. She dribbled the ball into the box and cut it around her defender. Then she curled a shot with her left foot into the top corner of the goal. Her goal was assisted by Australia Kyah Simon who also played her first minutes of the season in this match.

The North Carolina Courage (2-0-1) host Sky Blue FC next Saturday, and the Houston Dash (1-1-1) host the Orlando Pride next Sunday.