The preliminary round of the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup ended just like it began -- with a North Carolina Courage victory. The Courage got their fourth win in as many tries on Monday night, beating Sky Blue FC 2-0. The Courage already had the No. 1 seed for the knockout stage locked up prior to the game, but put on another impressive display as they cemented their status as tournament favorites.
Sam Mewis started the scoring with a goal in the seventh minute. And while Sky Blue threatened with eight shots and 57.5 percent possession, the Courage never looked back. Crystal Dunn added an insurance goal in the 56th minute.
The Courage will face the eighth-seeded Portland Thorns in the quarterfinals. Sky Blue was unable to build off its only win of the preliminary stage and was shutout for the third time in four games. Sky Blue will be the No. 7 seed in the knockout stage and will face the Washington Spirit in the quarterfinals.
Every Challenge Cup knockout stage game will be streaming on CBS All Access.
NC Courage 2, Sky Blue FC 0 (Final)
⚽Courage: Sam Mewis - 7'
⚽Courage: Crystal Dunn - 56'
North Carolina Courage: Head coach Paul Riley didn't hold back as he rolled out a starting XI with many of his typical starters for the team's final group match. The Courage looked content to build over the match instead of pushing into their high press aggressively. Mewis scored the first goal for the team on a chaotic set piece into the box early in the first half, while Dunn all but assured the victory for North Carolina with an early goal in the second half. The team faces Portland Thorns FC in the quarterfinals, the same team the Courage opened the tournament against.
Sky Blue FC: Sky Blue FC was able to bounce back after going down early in the match and remained impressive throughout the remainder of the first 45 minutes. Despite holding so much of the ball and retaining possession for the majority of the game, they were unable to connect, recording only one shot on goal.