While the league title will be heading to Cary, NC, this year’s title has a distinct Long Island imprint. Rockville Centre native Crystal Dunn, who was named to the NWSL Best XI, has been a fixture in the Courage starting XI this season and head coach Paul Riley also has strong ties to the youth soccer community on Long Island.
In addition, East Islip native Cari Roccaro and Meredith Speck of Rockville Centre were in North Carolina’s lineup for the final in Portland but did not see game action.
Following a regular season in which the Courage went 17-1-6 (WLD), North Carolina’s two-game postseason run included a 2-0 win over Chicago Red Stars in the playoff semi-final and 3-0 over Portland on Saturday in the finals.
The Courage had to overcome spending a week in Portland as its semi-final match originally scheduled for Saturday, September 15, in North Carolina, was moved to this past Tuesday at Providence Park in Portland — the Thorns home field — because of Hurricane Florence.
In the finals on Saturday played before a sellout crowd of 21,144, North Carolina in the first half showed it dominance and jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals from Debinha in the 13th minute and Jessica McDonald in the 40th minute. McDonald would give the Courage a three-goal cushion with her second of the night in the 64th minute.
Although Portland won the possession battle 60 percent to 40 percent, North Carolina outshot the Thorns 23-14, with five of those shots on goal vs. three for Portland.
— NWSL (@NWSL) September 22, 2018