by Fran Stuchbury
March 27, 2022 – National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) – North Carolina Courage
North Carolina Courage vs. the Orlando Pride
(North Carolina Courage, Credit: Fran Stuchbury)
The North Carolina Courage are off to a 2-0 start in NWSL Challenge Cup play after a 1-0 victory over the Orlando Pride at home at WakeMed Soccer Park on Saturday. The game was televised on Paramount+.
“What I have told the team is that they have fight in them, and that competitiveness we will definitely be needed down the road,” said North Carolina Courage Head Coach Sean Nahas. “I am proud of the group and their effort. All the credit goes to the players.”
“I thought it was a pretty good start for us,” said midfielder Malia Berkley. “We have things to work on. I think these games are really important for us to get better.”
On December 16, 2021 the Courage signed Berkley to a two-year contract following a transfer agreement with FC Girondins de Bordeaux that involved allocation money. Berkley played at Florida State and was also named ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2019 and 2020.
The lone goal of the game was scored in the 60th minute via a penalty kick by defender Merritt Mathias.
“I think you have step up to penalty kicks that 100 percent you are scoring; if any doubts kick in then you are overthinking it,” said Mathias. “During practice I mentioned I would be willing to take the penalty kick. It’s one of those things if you are confident to do it and it’s something you are willing to do, the coaches will listen to that. Debinha was not here – she takes most of those – I was willing to step in.”
Mathias is playing her eighth season in the NWSL. She played for FC Kansas City and Seattle Reign FC, she was with North Carolina in January 2018.
The Courage continue play in the NWSL Challenge Cup on Wednesday, March 30 on the road against the Washington Spirit. Their next home game in the NWSL Challenge Cup will be on Saturday, April 23rd against the Washington Spirit at 1 pm est.
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