Jess McDonald, Sam Mewis lift North Carolina over OL Reign


Paul Riley is now the winningest coach in NWSL history.

North Carolina’s 2-1 victory on Saturday secured Riley his 75th win, a new league record.

The Courage dominated the first half, controlling much of the midfield and deploying a persistent attack.

The first goal of the game, however, didn’t come until the 45th minute. Merrit Mathias, striding down the flank, curled a lofted ball into the box, finding Jessica McDonald, who buried a header past Sarah Bouhaddi to make it 1-0 before the half.

The Courage struck again in the 77th minute off a clever combination between second-half substitute Sam Mewis and Lynn Williams. Mewis, gathering the ball at the top of the box, pushed the ball wide for Williams, who then found Mewis again at the near post for the goal. The give-and-go doubled North Carolina’s lead and also made Williams the all-time NWSL assist leader with 26 contributions.

OL Reign kept things interesting down the stretch, answering with a goal of their own in the 86th minute. Jess Fishlock broke up a Courage build-up play in their own half to chip goalkeeper Casey Murphy, cutting North Carolina’s lead in half.

The Courage ultimately held off OL Reign’s late push, walking away with a 2-1 win and three points in the standings.