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North Carolina Courage

North Carolina Courage defeat Washington Spirit, remain unbeaten

The North Carolina Courage remain the only unbeaten team in the National Women’s Soccer League.

Abby Erceg delivered a header in the 63rd minute that sealed the Courage’s 1-0 win over the Washington Spirit Saturday at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C.

North Carolina generated scoring chances early in the match, with Samantha Mewis playing a ball to Crystal Dunn, whose shot was blocked by Spirit goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe.

An Erceg header in the 17th minute sailed just over the crossbar.

In the 37th minute, Bledsoe stopped another strong shot by Dunn.

Washington challenged North Carolina goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland throughout the match, with Spirit Tori Huster nearly scoring in the 48th minute. Rowland also stopped Mallory Pugh’s shot on the rebound.

“I thought it was a really good performance,” Courage coach Paul Riley said. “I thought we dominated the game. The midfield was very, very good, and I think having Sam [Mewis] back helps us a lot.”

The breakthrough goal was set up when Merritt Mathias was taken down outside of the box. Jaelene Hinkle took the free kick and Erceg headed it into the left corner of the net.

“It was good, especially having missed that first one that was sitting right there,” Erceg said of the game-winning goal. “I made it a little bit hard for myself. But yeah, it feels good. I scored, and obviously happy that we get the three points.”

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