Courage eliminate Pride from Challenge Cup playoffs with dominant win


The North Carolina Courage dominated Orlando 4-2 on Saturday, eliminating the Pride from semifinal contention in the Challenge Cup.

The East Division matchup got off to a lively start, with a dangerous cross from Merritt Mathias producing an Orlando Pride own goal in the third minute to give North Carolina the lead.

The Courage continued to cause problems on the right flank, doubling their lead in the sixth minute as Jaelene Daniels finished a well-placed ball from Taylor Smith.

North Carolina kept the pressure on. In the ninth minute of the game, Smith beat the Pride keeper at the near post to give the Courage a 3-0 lead.

Orlando responded in the 15th minute, when Darian Jenkins fired a screamer from the top of the box to put the Pride on the board.

After the break, Jenkins notched her second goal of the night, slotting in a redirected headed ball to bring the Pride within one.

The Courage put the game out of reach in the 89th minute, with Debinha turning on her defender before firing a low shot to seal the 4-2 win. The late finish was Debinha’s third goal in as many games.

Saturday’s win extends North Carolina’s unbeaten streak to five games, propelling the Courage to the top of the East Division.