CARY, N.C. – The return of women’s professional soccer in the Triangle was highlighted by a header from Debinha De Oliveira who scored the historic first and winning goal for the North Carolina Courage in a 1-0 win over the Portland Thorns on Saturday.
With both sides scoreless late into regulation time, Debinha’s goal came in the 81st minute as she successfully redirected Jessica McDonald’s cross that eventually gave the Courage the win in front of 6,298 in attendance at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park.
North Carolina remained undefeated after its first two matches (2-0-0) and sits atop the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) while the loss dropped the Thorns to 1-1-0 and in a four-way tie for third in the league table.
There were many opportunities for the Courage to blow the game open, maintaining possession for more than half the match as Debinha led all shooters with four shots on goal, followed by three from Samantha Mewis and Lynn Williams, and two apiece from McDonald and McCall Zerboni.
Though being outshot 14-3, the Thorns defended hard with 14 tackles and 19 clears while goalkeeper Adriana French made three saves to keep the match close.
Courage keeper Sabrina D’Angelo made one stop of the handful of shots she faced throughout.
Notes: Debinha’s marker was her first of the 2017 season…McDonald recorded her first assist of the season after tallying six setup feeds in 2016…Courage captain Abby Erceg returned to the lineup after missing the first game of the season due to injury….Ashley Hatch made her professional debut coming on for McDonald in the 89th minute.
NC Courage: Sabrina D’Angelo; Jaelene Hinkle, Abby Erceg ©, Abby Dahlkemper, Yuri Kawamura; McCall Zerboni, Sam Mewis, Debinha (Rosana,85’), Makenzy Doniak (Taylor Smith, 77); Lynn Williams, Jessica McDonald (Ashley Hatch, 89’) – Subs not used: Katelyn Rowland, Meredith Speck, Sam Witteman, Kristen Hamilton
Portland Thorns: Adrianna Franch; Emily Sonnett, Emily Menges, Meghan Klingenberg (Meghan Cox, 46’); Amandine Henry, Lindsey Horan (Mana Shim, 77’), Allie Long, Celeste Bourielle, Nadia Nadim; Mallory Weber (Hayley Raso, 65’), Christine Sinclair © – Subs not used: Britt Eckerstrom, Meg Morris
Goals: NC: Debinha (Jessica McDonald, 81’); POR: —
Cautions: NC: Yuri Kawamura (27’), Sam Mewis (76’); POR: —
Ejections: NC: –;POR: —