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Williams Strikes Again


J.J. Pavlick

Entering the second game of the Challenge Cup Gotham FC sits currently in 1st place with the NC Courage sitting behind them in second by two points. Gotham beat the Washington Spirit in the first match for the Challenge Cup by a 1-0 score thanks to Lynn Williams who scored the game-winner late in the second half. Lynn Williams has been Gotham's Superhero this season coming up big when the team needs it the most, she currently has 6 goals across all matches for Gotham. While North Carolina who lost to Gotham 1-0 back on April 22nd, earned just a tie in their first Challenge Cup match against the Orlando Pride finishing 1 - 1. When speaking with head coach Juan Carlos Amoros he stated, "The Challenge Cup is treated with the same passion as the regular season, we want to win every match."

The first half of the match was a daunting task for Gotham, they were outplayed badly, and the Courage made them pay early with a goal just 3' into the match from Gejl. The courage had 6 high-quality attempts on the net throughout the half and even earned a penalty kick in the 8' after a VAR review confirmed the on-field call. Pinto stepped up but failed to come through for the Courage as Michelle Betos read it the entire way and completely stuffed the attempt with little effort. (Photo Credit: Gotham FC)

Michelle Betos penalty kick save
Michelle Betos penalty kick save

That failure by Pinto would prove to be costly along with the other high-quality misses from the Courage. Nighswonger was a punching bag for the Courage for the entirety of the half and late in the half, Kelly O'Hara shifted over to help the rookie slow the Courage down some. Nighswonger wasn't the only defender to struggle though, Freeman made what should have been costly turnovers inside the box multiple times. Thankfully the Courage seemed to have an off day when it came to finishing their amazing runs in the box. (Photo Credit: Gotham FC)

Michelle Betos Save from Header
Michelle Betos Save from Header 37'
“I felt, if I can keep this PK out, we’re going to get back into this game,” said Betos. “The thing with this team, that we’ve proven day in and day out, is that we are always going to fight, and we are always going to come back,” said Betos. “As a goalkeeper, it’s such a good feeling to know that if you just keep the team in the game, because we have the threats, we have the work ethic, and we’re going to find a way to get a point or win. I’m just so proud to be part of this team.”

The second half saw both teams make some lineup changes, and the biggest change was when Juan brought on superhero Lynn Williams. Lynn didn't waste any time becoming an impact immediately. Lynn pressed the Courage midfield and backline with no regard for their personal well-being and causing nightmares all over the pitch. Lynn Williams would come through for her side after heading a ball over the crossbar in the 47' she buried a Nighswonger cross into the back of the net in the 74' to tie the game in late dramatic fashion displaying her signature "Bat Celebration". (Photo Credit: Gotham FC)

Lynn Williams Goal Celebration
Lynn Williams Goal Celebration

Both teams would max out their substitutions in the second half of play and Gotham was dealt a scare just before Williams dramatic finish when goalkeeper Michelle Betos was shown a straight red card in the 67' for a hard tackle outside the box. However, VAR would step in and upon a second look the referee took away the red card and the foul as a whole, restarting the match with a drop ball. Gotham's goalkeeper coach was issued a yellow card for his words toward the center referee or maybe the 4th official. Gotham and the Courage had chances late in the match to secure the win, but the attempts fell short, ending in the 95' a 1 - 1 tie. Gotham would stay in first with 4 points and Carolina stayed in second with 2 points pending the results of the other matches.

“It was a tale of two halves,” said Gotham FC Head Coach Juan Carlos Amorós. “We showed a lot of character. We were under some pressure, so we made some changes at halftime to show that we wanted to come here to win, to be aggressive and offensive from start to finish. The second half was much better. We had chance after chance and then got the goal from Lynn. If the game went on for a few more minutes, I think we’d have the chance to get the win. But it was a good point.” “Those saves by Michelle in the first half were crucial.”

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