The National Women's Soccer League became the first professional team sports league to mark its return during the COVID-19 pandemic with the launch of the 2020 Challenge Cup in Utah. The action kicked off Saturday on CBS and CBS All Access as two-time reigning championteam at Zions Bank Stadium -- a rematch of the 2018 and 2017 championship games -- to secure a 2-1 win.
. Debinha scored the first goal of the tourney, while the Thorns equalized five minutes later in the second half. It was Lynn Williams who scored the game-winning goal in added time via header to secure the three points for the Courage.
Courage 2, Thorns 1 -- FT
⚽ Courage: Debinha 75'
⚽ Thorns: Simone Charley 80'
⚽ Courage: Lynn Williams 90+4'
North Carolina Courage: The club entered the tournament as the favorites to win the Challenge Cup in Vegas and so far, so good. While the attempts in the first half weren't hitting the back to the net, the build-up in play provided several looks in the early stages. Lynn Willams, Debinha and Crystal Dunn were significant players throughout the half, including rookie defender Addisyn Merrick.
A flurry of attempts down the stretch proved worthy as Debinha scored the first goal of the tournament thanks to a brilliant service from newly-acquired forward Hailie Mace, who picked up an assist in her first NWSL match. Lynn Williams provided the game-winner after an assist from Sam Mewis.
Next game: Wednesday, July 1 at 10 p.m. vs. Washington Spirit (CBS All Access)
Portland Thorns FC: The Portland squad looked a little different as it took the pitch, with newcomer Rocky Rodriguez and goalkeeper Bella Bixby getting the start. The team was able to manage the quick transitional attacks from the Courage, thanks to the outstanding pro debut of Bixby. As the team entered halftime, it was deadlocked at zero.
The lone goal came from second-year forward Simone Charley after header from Lindsay Horan ricocheted the post.
Next game: Wednesday, July 1 at 12:30 p.m. vs. Chicago Red Stars (CBS All Access)