NWSL: Courage victory sets up dream final against Thorns

The North Carolina Courage will get a second shot at the Portland Thorns.

The Courage, winner of the NWSL Shield as regular-season champion in 2017 and 2018, beat the Chicago Red Stars, 2-0, on Tuesday night and moved into Saturday's final against Portland in a rematch of the 2017 final it lost to the Thorns, 1-0.

Crystal Dunn set up Jessica McDonald and Samantha Mewis for the two goals that will keep the Courage in Portland for the final at Providence Park. The Courage-Red Stars semifinal was moved from Cary, North Carolina, due to uncertainty surrounding Hurricane Florence.

The announced crowd of 4,646 fans -- more than five NWSL teams averaged in 2018 -- was a testament to the support for women's soccer in Portland.

Entering the semifinals with a 17-1-6 record in the NWSL and wins over Paris St. Germain and Lyon in the UEFA Champions League, the Courage was favored but the Red Stars had their chances.

Japanese Yuki Nagasato hit the crossbar in the third minute, and Australian Sam Kerr hit the post three minutes after McDonald put the Courage ahead.

Filling in for Katelyn Rowland, sidelined with a concussion, Canadian keeper Sabrina D’Angelo later came up with big saves on Nagasato and Casey Short to keep the Courage ahead until Mewis' goal from 25 yards sealed the win.

Sept. 18 in Portland, Oregon
NC Courage 2 Chicago 0. Goals: McDonald (Dunn) 5, Mewis (Dunn) 86.
NC Courage -- D’Angelo; Hinkle, Erceg, Dahlkemper, Mathias (O’Reilly, 89); Debinha (Hamilton, 87), O’Sullivan, Mewis, Dunn; Williams, McDonald.
Chicago -- Naeher; Gilliland, Ertz, Naughton, Short; DiBernardo (White, 87), Brian, Colaprico, Mautz (Vasconcelos, 82), Kerr, Nagasato.
Att.: 4,646.
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