NJ/NY Gotham FC picked up their first-ever NWSL playoff win on Sunday, defeating the North Carolina Courage 2-0 at WakeMed Soccer Park. The game’s lone goal came just before halftime, courtesy of midfielder Delanie Sheehan. Gotham were finding success on the wings as halftime neared and that was the case for the goal, but with numbers around the box, the visitors patiently built up play. Bruninha eventually had the ball in a central position right outside the box and sent it towards Sheehan to her right, who made a run, took a shot from an angle, and scored her first NWSL goal.
The Courage dominated possession during the first half but Gotham seemed up for the task defensively and limited the hosts to just one off-target shot in the first half. The visitors, meanwhile, had six shots but one on target. They were visibly missing Kerolin, the MVP contending forward who tore her ACL on Decision Day.
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Both sides stepped up their offensive efforts in the second half, with Tyler Lussi generating several chances for the Courage. Gotham were equally up to the task and by the end of the game, had leveled possession and saw success through Midge Purce and Yazmeen Ryan. Things eventually swung Gotham’s way, who picked up a second in stoppage time.
Williams earned the ball on the wing and sent it towards Ryan, who was able to cap off her efforts with a goal in the 91st minute from close range.
This marks Gotham’s first-ever NWSL playoff win in their third postseason appearance, and Sheehan’s goal is the first for the club.
Gotham return to play on Nov. 5, when they face the Portland Thorns for a spot in the NWSL Championship.
Megan Rapinoe’s not the only legend of the game who extended her career by another game in the quarterfinals. The win for Gotham means Ali Krieger, a fellow two-time Women’s World Cup winner with Rapinoe, gets the chance to play another time when the team heads to Portland in two weeks time, and could be crucial to the team’s success.
Gotham’s attacking trio of Purce, Esther Gonzalez and Lynn Williams are central to the team’s new look but their success on Sunday was down to their defensive effort. They limited the Courage to just five shots and just 0.31 expected goals, and the job will not get much easier against the Thorns, who boast Golden Boot winner Sophia Smith.