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North Carolina Courage

Utah Royals score late goal, hand North Carolina Courage their first loss

The Utah Royals unleashed a rowdy postgame celebration, savoring a historic win.

Brittany Ratcliffe scored in the 94th minute, lifting the Royals to a 1-0 win at North Carolina in front of an announced crowd of 5,164. It sealed the Courage’s first loss of the 2018 NWSL season and built on the expansion side’s success so far this season.

“I reacted like we had just won the World Cup,” Ratcliffe said. “I was so happy because it is so hard coming here. We won, and we did what we had to do, and so I think I just blacked out — I was just so happy. We worked as a team, and we fought hard.”

Diana Matheson took a free kick from near sideline and sent the shot to the top right corner of the box. It bounced away from goal and through a crowd before it was gathered by Ratcliffe, who swiftly turned and fired to the upper far left corner of the goal before the Courage defense had time to react.

“I lost my mind for ten seconds,” Utah coach Laura Harvey said. “I jumped on [assistant coach] Scott [Parkinson.] And then I started asking, ‘How much time is left?’ Because the thing N.C. is great at is that they can respond quickly. So in some ways, scoring so late was the reason that we were able to get away with a win.”

Utah goalkeeper Abby Smith finished with four saves, turning away shots from Courage stars Crystal Dunn and Jessica McDonald. North Carolina goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland recorded two saves.

“As they say, you need to lose,” Courage coach Paul Riley said. “We’ll see what we’re made of as a group, and I think it’s good for adversity. You have to have it at some point, and sooner than later, so we can regroup again. We’ve got great character in the group and we go on the road now for two really tough games.”

North Carolina plays at Seattle on June 23 at 4 p.m., while Utah will play at Chicago on June 23 at 8 p.m.

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