NC Courage advance to NWSL final, will face Portland

Photo credit: @TheNCCourage

CARY, N.C. (AP) Denise O’Sullivan scored in the 90th minute to send the North Carolina Courage to the National Women’s Soccer League championship with a 1-0 semifinal victory over the Chicago Red Stars on Sunday.

The Courage will face the Portland Thorns next Saturday in Orlando, Florida. The Thorns beat the Orlando Pride 4-1 on Saturday.

The Courage won the league’s Supporters’ Shield for the best regular season record at 16-7-1. The team was previously the Western New York Flash. The franchise won last season’s NWSL championship before being sold and moving to North Carolina in the offseason.

The Thorns (14-5-5) finished second in the 10-team league. Last season, Portland went 12-3-5 and finished with the league’s best record but fell 4-3 in the semifinals to the Flash.

The Courage won its first four games this season and stayed atop the table for almost the rest of the way, led by Lynn Williams – last season’s league MVP – with nine goals and five assists.

No team has ever won the Supporters’ Shield and the championship in the same season.

Chicago, paced by forward Christen Press with 11 goals, stumbled in August with three losses at home but went undefeated for its final four games. Teammate Julie Ertz had four goals and three assists playing a defensive midfield position.

The Red Stars had won all three regular-season meetings with the Courage.

The NWSL is wrapping up its historic fifth season. No other professional women’s soccer league in the United States has lasted as long.