Lightning strikes for North Carolina Courage in Women's ICC

For the second year in a row, the North Carolina Courage will face Lyon in the Women’s International Champions Cup final.

It will be the NWSL champion against the French and European champion Sunday at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina. But both teams struggled in their semifinals.

Lyon's star-studded squad includes 2018 Ballon d'Or winner Ada Hegerberg, French stars Wendie Renard and Amandine Henry, Germany's Dzsenifer Marozsan, Dutch winger Shanice van de Sanden and English star Lucy Bronze, who played one year at the nearby University of the North Carolina.

Thirteen of the 14 players Lyon used -- all but Hegerberg, who has refused to play for Norway since 2017 -- played at the 2019 Women's World Cup.

But OL needed a goal by Renard on a header off a corner kick in the 90th minute to beat Atletico Madrid, 1-0, in Thursday's first semifinal.

Atletico is the three-time defending Spanish league champion with a multi-national roster that includes former Boston University defender Kylie Strom.

The Courage's 2-1 victory over Manchester City in the nightcap was more improbable. It was trailing, 1-0, late in the game when lightning struck, forcing a 73-minute delay.

The delay forced Courage coach Paul Riley to replace U.S. World Cup champions Crystal Dunn and Sam Mewis and fellow U.S. international Lynn Williams, but the Courage pulled the game out with two goals in the last six minutes after most of the crowd had long since left.

McKenzie Meehan, one of the three late subs, scored her first goal in three years as a pro to tie the game in the 84th minute and Jessica McDonald, who entered the game to start the second half, delivered the winner with a stoppage-time goal, stripping a Manchester City defender of the ball and scoring on a breakaway.

The four-team International Champions Cup, the closest thing to an assembling of the world's top women's clubs, is a friendly tournament -- the three European teams have yet to begin their seasons -- so there was liberal substitution.

Crowd count. The game drew 5,426 fans for the first time since the Courage's four World Cup champions (Abby Dahlkemper, McDonald, Dunn and Mewis) returned home. Dahlkemper did not play.

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