For the first game of the 2022 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) regular season, expansion side Angel City FC played at home against the decorated North Carolina Courage.
Angel City’s first home game saw a record-breaking attendance of 22,000 people. They were among a group of games with record-setting attendances over the weekend. This sell-out crowd is one of the starting points of building a great club.
Everyone thought this game was going to take a different turn after seeing Angel City play in the Challenge Cup. Angel City finished last in their division with four points while the Courage finished first in their division with 12 points. They also secured an automatic spot in the semi-finals of the tournament.
Angel City fed off their win against the Portland Thorns in their final match of the Challenge Cup to produce the win against the Courage.
Highlights of the Game: Angel City vs North Carolina Courage
Both teams had solid lineups consisting of top-tier players to lead their team. Angel City saw a front line managed by Christen Press and a backline with veteran Ali Riley and Olympic gold medalist Vanessa Gilles. The Courage had Brazilian duo Debinha and Kerolin leading the offense, and Riley’s New Zealand teammate Abby Erceg leading the backline.
The game began with an early goal for the home side. Angel City’s Jun Endo sent in the corner where Gilles cleanly headed the ball past goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland to provide a 1-0 lead. The goal gave the side a boost of confidence after their Challenge Cup performance.
In the 13th minute, Angel City got their second goal of the match. Savannah McCaskill sent the ball through to Endo who then took on Rowland 1v1 and slotted the ball into the back of the net. This goal served to be the eventual game-winner for the side.
Later in the 51st minute, the Courage were finally on the board. Rookie Emily Gray played a perfectly placed cross to Debinha’s head where she easily got the ball past goalkeeper DiDi Haracic. The score flicked to 2-1, the Courage trailing by a goal.
After more chances from both sides, the game finally ended 2-1, with Angel City capturing their first NWSL regular season win. For any avid NWSL watcher, it’s known this was an upset for the Courage.Embed from Getty Images
Player of the Match: Angel City vs North Carolina Courage
The Player of the match would have to be Jun Endo.
This is Endo’s first year in the NWSL, but she has experience playing internationally for Japan. She was all over the field and provided a lot of opportunities as well as scoring the winning goal. The chemistry between Endo and Press is definitely something to watch for in the future of the squad.
The North Carolina Courage plays the Kansas City Current on May 4th, in the semi-final of the Challenge Cup. Angel City takes on the Orlando Pride on May 8th for the first meeting between the two teams.