NWSL Fall Series Champion vs. Champion Match


Gregory Ng from FollowGregSports.com

North Carolina Courage Debinha Mari (L) and Captain Abby Dahlkemper (R) discussing a game plan. Defender Dahlkemper has 16 caps with NC Courage in 2019 and has 61 appearances with the U.S Women’s National Team. Brazilian National Team Forward Debinha has 21 caps with NC Courage in 2019 is named Woman Of The Week.

As the NBA and NFL make their comeback from COVID-19, the NWSL is also here to stay. Starting their fall series this month, League Champion’s for three years North Carolina Courage, and Summer 2020 Challenge Cup Champions Houston Dash went head to head on Sunday, September 13 to gain their top spot for the start of the season. With defending League Champs and the 2020 Challenge Cup Champs, these two teams were all in it to win it. Both teams were scheduled to meet in Oregon and had to travel to Courage’s home field in Sahlen’s Stadium, North Carolina, to avoid the Oregon fires.

Work Hard Play Harder

Houston Dash Forward Kristie Mewis talks about her team’s mentality for this game. “One huge thing that [our team] talks about is emotional control, and that’s just really important to us,” Mewis says, “We all really work hard to obviously stay emotionally together…So, I think we can continue to do that, we’ll be fine.” With the Challenge Champs confident within their game, they kicked off by attacking furiously to goal. At the 17 minute mark, a small mistake made by the Houston Dash back line led to a counter and foul in the box on NC Courage and Brazilian National Player Debinha Mari #10. Awarded their first penalty of the game, U.S Women’s National player and NC Courage Captain Abby Dahlkemper #7 steps up to the plate gaining a 1-0 lead for her team.

Houston Pushes the Team Forward

Not long after, Houston’s Forward Shea Groom #6 wins the ball by a counter attack from Dahlkemper, feeding it in a short layoff to Veronica Latsko #12 slotting it behind the keeper for a goal in the 24th minute. Tied for the first 36 minutes, Shea Groom refuses to back down by making another short assist to Kristie Mewis #19 shooting left near post leaving Houston with a 2-1 lead in the first half.

With a surprise winning from the Challenge Champs, Courage fights to defend their name on their home field. Courage Lynn Williams #9 passes to Debinha #10 while collecting the ball and taking a shot above the 18-yard box hammering into the back of the net for a 2-2 tie. Around the 53rd minute, a foul by Houston’s Defender Allysha Chapman #2 giving her a red card, while her team finishes the game with 10 players on the field. Energized, Courage keeps pushing forward making plays and taking shots to finish, but Houston Dash has not given up.

Courage Takes One for the Team

In the 69th minute, Katie Stengel #7 controls a high ball to give to Sophie Schmidt #13 to finish one point ahead of NC Courage. As the game got heated, Courage kept fighting, gaining another goal by an assist from Rylee Baisden #29 and finish by Williams #9 in the 82nd minute. With about 10 minutes to go and a 3-3 tie, Courage still energized by staying on Houston’s defensive half. 85th minute, Dahlkemper #7 gives a corner kick towards the box, Houston makes a short clearance giving Debinha #10 another goal for Courage, finishing the game with a 4-3 win on their home field. North Carolina Courage finishes in the first place spot while Houston Dash moves down to eighth place.