Cary, N.C. — Settling for a draw after taking an early lead likely doesn’t leave too many teams happy, but with the way Utah Royals FC’s road game on Sunday afternoon against the North Carolina Courage unfolded, Utah will surely be happy with getting a point.
URFC’s Amy Rodriguez scored her third goal of the season in the seventh minute, but the rest of the match unequivocally belonged to the Courage. The home side couldn’t get a goal, however, until Elizabeth Eddy finally found the net in the 78th minute and the two squads ultimately finished locked at 1-1.
With the point, URFC momentarily moved into a three-way tie atop the NWSL table with the Washington Spirit and Houston Dash at 10 points, but the Chicago Red Stars later overtook all three with a win over the Dash. URFC still hasn’t ever lost to North Carolina, which won the NWSL title last season.
URFC emphasized during the week that the Courage would press high, and that’s exactly what happened throughout the contest. In the early minutes, URFC was able to solve the press and got some good looks at goal.
Then in the seventh minute, URFC’s Katie Stengel put on a press of her own, and Katie Bowen ultimately intercepted a ball that was sent long near midfield. After a series of passes, Vero Boquete slotted the ball into URFC’s area. A charging Rodriguez beat her defender to it and tapped it into the left side of the net, with North Carolina goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland unable to offer much of an attempt at stopping it.
That woke the Courage up, though, and as has become their way, they controlled the rest of the game, finishing with 18 shots compared to just two for URFC.
URFC managed to get a little bit better in its attack at about the 65-minute mark, but that left the defense compromised on a number of occasions, and only some outstanding plays from center back Rachel Corsie and goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart kept the Courage off the board through 77 minutes.Comment on this story
That changed in the 78th minute, however, when North Carolina’s Jaelene Hinkle sent a ball from about 40 yards out to the Courage 18-yard box. Corsie missed on a header that would have intercepted it, and it went right to North Carolina’s Debinha at the top of the box.
With a nifty pass, Debinha sent the ball into the area, and Eddy beat Corsie to it. With the ball on the right side of the net, Barnhart hugged the right post and Eddy rifled a shot into the left side of the net for the equalizer.
URFC was a bit more active offensively in the closing minutes, but neither side seriously threatened for another goal.
URFC will return home to play the NWSL-worst Orlando Pride on Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium.