CARY, North Carolina (Saturday, April 21, 2018) – Utah Royals FC (0-1-3, 3 points) staged a dramatic comeback, but conceded a late goal and settled for a 2-2 draw with the North Carolina Courage on Saturday at Sahlen’s Stadium.
FW Katie Stengel and FW Brittany Ratcliffe scored their first goals of the season for the Royals after Utah fell behind in the opening minutes of the match, but Crystal Dunn scored in the 80th minute to force the draw.
North Carolina controlled the match in the first half and scored on their only first-half shot on goal. In the sixth minute, Merritt Mathias bombed a first-time shot from 25 yards out to find the top corner and a 1-0 lead. Utah’s first shot didn’t come until the 37thminute when DF Kelley O’Hara made an overlapping run to get a shot on goal, but it was saved without much threat.
The second half saw a turnaround for Utah as Royals FC took advantage of two misplayed balls from North Carolina to pounce on the lead. In the 52nd minute, Stengel outhustled the opposition and beat defender Abby Dahlkemper to head home a loose ball in front of net to equalize. Then Utah snagged the lead when Ratcliffe rocketed a shot from just outside the box after a missed clearance, finding the net for her first goal of the season for a 2-1 lead in the 66th minute. North Carolina pressured a ball played to GK Abby Smith in the 80th minute, though, and her clearance took a bad hop and fell into the path of Dunn who deflected into the net for the final 2-2 score line.
UP NEXT: Royals FC returns to Rio Tinto Stadium for the first of four consecutive home matches. Utah will host the Portland Thorns on Saturday, April 28, before meeting the Washington Spirit (May 5), Orlando Pride (May 9) and Houston Dash (May 19).
GOAL SCORING RUNDOWN:
NC: Merritt Mathias, 6th minute – After a corner kick was deflected clear of the box, Merritt Mathias rocketed a volley from 25 yards out that found the top corner for her first goal of the year and a 1-0 North Carolina lead.
UTA: Katie Stengel, 52nd minute – Sydney Miramontez crossed a high ball from the right side and Courage defender Abby Dahlkemper attempted to head the ball clear of the oncoming Katie Stengel. The Utah forward persisted with pressure and outleaped Dahlkemper to head home her first goal of the season to equalize at 1-1.
UTA: Brittany Ratcliffe, 66th minute: On a misplayed clearance by North Carolina goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland, the ball fell to Brittany Ratcliffe 25 yards out on the right side. She took a touch, then blasted a shot past Rowland and into the net for her first goal of the season as Utah snared a 2-1 lead.
NC: Crystal Dunn, 80th minute: Utah goalkeeper Abby Smith looked to clear a ball over the top, but it took a North Carolina bounce and the ball fell into the path of Crystal Dunn. Sydney Miramontez tried to knock it away, but hit the ball off of the oncoming Dunn and into the net to equalize at 2-2.
KEY SAVES AND DEFENSIVE STOPS:
UTA: Abby Smith, 49th minute – North Carolina went out on the break with the ball going wide for Crystal Dunn. She tried to place her shot inside the far post, but Abby Smith made the diving save to push the ball wide for a corner.
- The lineup used was URFC Head Coach Laura Harvey’s fourth different lineup in four matches.
- Utah remains unbeaten on the road, earning draws in all three road matches thus far this year.
Match: Utah Royals FC at North Carolina Courage
Date: April 21, 2018
Venue: Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park; Cary, North Carolina
Weather: Sunny and 68
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
Utah Royals FC 0 2 2
NC Courage 1 1 2
NC: Merritt Mathias 6’
UTA: Katie Stengel 52’
UTA: Brittany Ratcliffe 66’
NC: Crystal Dunn 80’
Utah Royals FC (4-3-3): Abby Smith; Sydney Miramontez, Becky Sauerbrunn, Rachel Corsie, Kelley O’Hara (Elise Thorsnes 69’); Katie Bowen, Gunny Jónsdóttir, Desiree Scott; Katie Stengel, Lo’eau Labonta (Amy Rodriguez 69’), Brittany Ratcliffe (Diana Matheson 85’).
Subs not used: Nicole Barnhart, Erika Tymrak, Taylor Lytle, Becca Moros.
North Carolina Courage: (4-4-2): Katelyn Rowland; Merritt Mathias, Abby Dahlkemper, Abby Erceg, Jaelene Hinkle; Crystal Dunn, McCall Zerboni, Denise O’Sullivan (Elizabeth Eddy 86’), Kristen Hamilton (Samantha Mewis 66’); Jessica McDonald (Darian Jenkins 55’), Lynn Williams.
Subs not used: Sabrina D’Angelo, Kaleigh Kurtz, Cari Roccaro, Meredith Speck
Stats Summary: UTA / NC
Shots: 4 / 11
Shots on Goal: 4 / 5
Saves: 4 / 2
Corner Kicks: 0 / 10
Fouls: 3 / 10
Offside: 2 / 3
NC: Kristen Hamilton (Caution) 17’
UTA: Brittany Ratcliffe (Caution) 28’
NC: Abby Dahlkemper (Caution) 87’