Oftentimes they say games are a tale of two halves. This wasn’t the case for this one. This game was the tale of 90 minutes, and those 4 minutes of stoppage time added to the end of the second half were the difference.
Going into this match, Utah Royals FC fans knew it was going to be one of the hardest matches they would play this season. North Carolina sits at the top of the NWSL standings with 30 points so far, with a +12 goal differential. This team was seemingly, unbeatable.
For the first half, the match seemed pretty even. Neither team got too many shots, possession was split 45-55, and the defenses were on their games. It was pretty similar in the second half as well, but coming in around the 75th or so minute, it really started to getting a little questionable from the Royals. North Carolina was starting to get a lot of chances, and thankfully, Abby Smith was able to keep it scoreless.
In the 77th minute, head coach Laura Harvey subbed Brittany Ratcliffe in for Katrina Gorry. Ratcliffe would ultimately be the game changer in this game. In the 94th minute of the match, Ratcliffe scored what would be the only goal of the game, handing North Carolina their first loss of the season.
The goal followed by foul being committed on Ratcliffe. She stood up and sent a ball into the upper 90, beating Courage goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland. The ref gave the Courage about 30 more seconds after the goal, before ultimately calling the game. This gave the Utah Royals 3 points, and now they sit pretty, currently in the top 4 of the league.