Utah Royals FC did something no other team has done against the North Carolina Courage this season: Stop them from earning three points when, from a first-half performance of a high press, looked like the Courage would do so. But that is why they play the full 90 minutes.
It was North Carolina all first half as the Courage took the lead in the sixth minute. Off a clearance that landed in front of the opposing team’s player in position, reminiscent of last week, Merritt Mathias had enough space outside the box to send a soaring shot towards the goal for the early lead.
The Courage continued to dominate the rest of the first half, leading in passing accuracy with 68.8% and possession of 53.7%. Meanwhile, Utah spent much of the half in the defensive third.
Whatever was said at halftime, the Royals came into the second half determined to equalize. And equalize they did in the 52nd minute as a result of a bad clearance from Courage defender Abby Dahlkemper. Katie Stengel took advantage of the ball in the air to head it in for the 1-1 tie.
In the 66th minute, Utah would take the lead, again as result of a bad clearance. This time from Courage goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland when her clearance went right to Brittany Ratcliffe. The Utah forward launched a rocket outside of the goal box right into the net.
.@brit_ratcliffe gives @UtahRoyalsFC the lead in Cary! We've got 20 minutes left in this one and the pressure is on for @TheNCCourage.#NCvUTA | #NWSLonLifetime | @lifetimetv pic.twitter.com/d4NDCZGNXh— NWSL (@NWSL) April 21, 2018
As the Royals looked to earn their first win of the season, the Courage spoiled that in the 80th minute. Keeping with the tradition of bad clearances in the game, goalkeeper Abby Smith looked to send the ball away from attacking forward, Lynn Williams. However, the ball never fully cleared and landed by Crystal Dunn who was already charging towards the ball. Defender Sydney Miramontez attempted to clean up the mistake, but by then, the ball was headed towards the wide-open goal.
The Royals would settle for a draw in North Carolina, earning another point on the road, improving to 0-1-3 with three points for the 2018 season.