Two games today round out a packed weekend of National Women’s Soccer League action. With Orlando already eliminated, five teams are vying for four spots in the playoffs, and three of them played today. With their win over the Courage, Gotham move above the playoff line while the Courage are now on the verge of elimination pending the result of tonight’s second game. Here’s what happened in today’s matches
North Carolina Courage 0, NJ/NY Gotham FC 3
The Skinny: The first half of this match was fairly even, going into the break still scoreless. But that result was thanks in large part to big saves from Casey Murphy keeping North Carolina in it.
Gotham came out firing in the second half and found the breakthrough when Margaret Purce pounced on a bouncing ball in the box that the defense failed to clear.
Ten minutes later, Purce got her second, poking home a saved shot from Ifeoma Onumonu. Just three minutes later Carli Lloyd would add another from long distance, doing well to turn and create space outside the box, finishing near post.
Once the Courage were already down three goals they started to really test Gotham, but Kailen Sheridan was a rock in net to preserve her shutout. This result moves Gotham into fifth place, in good position to qualify with three games in hand, compared to other teams one. North Carolina are now just outside of the playoff picture.
One Key Moment: The partnership between Onumonu and Purce has been great for Gotham. The individual work from Onumonu to dribble into her defender, then cut it back for a good shot was great, while Purce sprinted down the field to get open for her teammate, she didn’t get the ball but she was perfectly placed to take advantage.
Inside the Game: The fact that the Courage players are even playing right now, given all they have gone through, is miraculous, but the toll shows in their performance. Once they conceded it looked very unlikely they could comeback, with their play appearing sloppy and tired. Casey Murphy was huge and pulled off some great saves, but their questionable defense continues to be taken advantage of to the point where Murphy can’t do anything. Meanwhile, Gotham has found some consistency and strength in their backline, flowing into their offense, creating a solid full team performance.
- NJ/NY Gotham FC — Margaret Purce, 54’
- NJ/NY Gotham FC — Margaret Purce, 64’
- NJ/NY Gotham FC — Carli Lloyd (Estelle Johnson), 67’