Courage explodes in second half, take down Louisville FC 3-1 ::

Courage explodes in second half, take down Louisville FC 3-1 ::

— The North Carolina Courage erupted for three second-half goals to beat Racing Louisville FC, 3-1, Sunday afternoon at WakeMed Soccer Park. The team’s fourth straight result improves North Carolina to 8-1-7 for 25 points heading into the Olympic break.

Ashley Sanchez, Manaka Matsukubo, and Olivia Wingate all scored for the Courage in the win.

The Courage allowed a Reilyn Turner goal just past the half-hour mark and was held without a shot on target through the first 45 minutes. Then, Head Coach Sean Nahas made a move he’d never done before: making a trio of halftime substitutions along the front line.

The move worked.

First, a true team goal utilized an eight-pass sequence for the equalizer. After a build up from the back, Narumi split the Louisville midfield ahead for sub Manaka, who played the ball wide for fellow sub Meredith Speck to loop through the box where Sanchez finished off a picturesque header to tie the game in the 55’. Sanchez scored for the third straight match and now has four goals on the season.

Just minutes later, Manaka pounced on a poor pass from Katie Lund and chipped the keeper from long range for what would prove to be the winner at the hour mark. It was the first goal of the season for Manaka in her first action since signing an extension with the club through 2025 last week.

The Courage added some breathing room less than 10 minutes later. Wingate, making her season debut, opened her 2024 scoring account with a brilliant finish off a cutback from captain Denise O’Sullivan. The assist for O’Sullivan was the central midfielder’s first goal contribution of the season to bolster her incredible work in defense and possession this year.

The Courage are off for the start of the Olympic Break next weekend, but will return to kickoff the NWSL x Liga MX Femenil Summer Cup against the Orlando Pride on Saturday, July 20, at 7:30 p.m. ET at WakeMed Soccer Park.

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