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Recap: Seattle Reign fall to the NC Courage on the road

Seattle couldn’t keep up with a relentless North Carolina attack.

Photo credit - MikeRussellFoto

After a lightning storm delayed the match for more than two hours, Seattle was unable to Let it Reign against the league-leading North Carolina Courage — falling 2-0 on the road in a tough match that had the Reign chasing for much of the game.

The result puts Seattle Reign FC’s road record this season at 1-3-2, and all three losses have been shutouts.

Both teams came out a bit stiff at the start, likely due to the long wait in the locker room. But for the first quarter of the match, Seattle was moving the ball well. The team got two early corners, Kristen McNabb had a shot go off the post, and Merritt Mathias had a few strong looks on goal.

But after that, it was mostly North Carolina in the attack. The Courage found their first goal in the 33rd minute, when rookie forward Ashley Hatch took advantage of a poor clearance in the box — one-touching a shot into the back of the net. The play started when a McCall Zerboni cross was lightly redirected by Lauren Barnes, and her touch went right to Hatch.

The Courage would go on to produce 17 first-half shots, with both Hatch and Lynn Williams, who missed the last three matches due to an ankle injury, threatening Seattle’s goal. Against the run of play, Seattle nearly equalized just before halftime, when Megan Rapinoe dispossessed Courage goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland. Her shot from just outside the box went barely wide of the far post.

Following the halftime break, it was the McCall Zerboni show. The midfielder had two shots narrowly miss in both the 60th and 61st minute before finally getting a goal in the 81st. Substitute Jessica McDonald headed a shot toward the goal, which Rapinoe attempted to clear off the line. Zerboni was right there to redirect the clearance into the net, essentially sealing the victory for the home side.

Zerboni also led the Courage in touches (67), duels (14), and tackles (6), and she connected 80 percent of her 40 passes. As a team, North Carolina held Seattle — the top-scoring offense heading into the match — to only 13 shots, and just four on goal. The Courage, on the other hand, managed to get 30 shots off, with six on target.

It wasn’t the best showing for Seattle, but the team remains in fourth place for the time being, behind North Carolina, Chicago, and Sky Blue. Reign FC returns home next weekend, and will need to put in a much stronger performance to break down Boston — a team that hasn’t been scoring a lot of goals, but has been stingy on defense. The match kicks off at 7 PM PT on July 15.