Kelley O'Hara
4-22-23 Gotham vs NC Courage

Gotham FC ties NC Courage 1-1 in Second Challenge Cup Match

A second-half goal from Lynn Williams and a penalty kick save from Michelle Betos earned NJ/NY Gotham FC a well-deserved point in the team’s second match in the UKG Challenge Cup against the North Carolina Courage.

The starting XI for Wednesday’s match featured significant rotation including a first season start for goalkeeper Michelle Betos. Mandy Freeman, Nealy Martin, Delaine Sheehan, Sinead Farrelly, and Svava Rós Guðmundsdóttir also earned starts in another three-game week for the team. Midge Purce was unavailable for the match due to injury.

First Half Struggles

From the start, Gotham had a rough time staying on the attack which led to an early goal from NC Courage’s Mille Gejl Jenson. Shortly after the opening goal, NC Courage was on the attack yet again with another strong opportunity.

Gotham continued to struggle and find their rhythm. The lack of defensive support forced Betos to make key saves to keep Courage from lengthening their lead including stopping a penalty kick coming from a handball inside the box.

Betos’s ability to help her team limit the damage in the first half earned her Player of the Match honors. After the game, Betos described the moment of the penalty kick, saying that she knew if she could keep the ball out of the net, she could keep the team in the game and fight for a win.

Second Half Changes

In the second half, Gotham put a pep in their step and began creating more offensive opportunities bolstered by subbing Lynn Williams who started the game on the bench. Ali Krieger also subbed in for the second half providing additional support to the backline.

Finally, in the 74thminute, Gotham found their opportunity to equalizer with a cross from Jenna Nighswonger sailing straight to Williams who placed the ball past the keeper into goal. Williams’ incredible ability to fight through the defenders and make space allowed her to get to the ball and find the back of the net solidifying the final score of 1-1.

At the conclusion of the match, Williams’ spoke on scoring against her former team and what it felt like to be back at Wake Med in a different jersey, calling the moment “a little bittersweet.”

Coach Juan Carlos Amorós described the game as a tale of to halves. He credited his team for digging in for the first half and becoming more aggressive in the second half to earn the draw.

Despite the surge of energy in Gotham in the second half, they were unable to capitalize and take the lead for the win. The Courage consistently broke up a lot of plays from Gotham and forced turnovers to keep them from scoring.

Their next match in the Challenge Cup will be on June 7th against Orlando Pride. Gotham will have a few regular season games in between to focus on their areas of improvement.