NJ/NY Gotham drops first Challenge Cup game to North Carolina Courage

For the first game in the Challenge Cup for either side, NJ/NY Gotham FC and the North Carolina Courage faced off in Cary, North Carolina on Saturday night. The Courage came out on top after a dominant performance and an overall slow game by Gotham.

Before the match, it was announced that midfielders Allie Long and Kristie Mewis as well as forward Ifeoma Onumonu will be out against the Courage. Long and Onumonu were big pieces to Gotham’s success last year and many were waiting for the debut of Mewis as well. Recent signings Ashlyn Harris and Ali Krieger got the start for Gotham.

The first real chance came from Gotham in the first minute. Rookie forward Cameron Tucker was fed through the middle by Margaret Purce, where her right-footed shot went wide of the goal. After that chance, nothing too dangerous came from either side for some time.

In the 21st minute, Courage midfielder Denise O’Sullivan had a right-footed shot to the center of the goal but it was saved by Harris. A minute later, the Courage was on the board with a header by former Gotham player Brianna Pinto. 

The rest of the quarter saw some shots off target by the Courage, while Gotham had trouble building from the back. The teams went into halftime with a 1-0 Courage lead.

The second half begins with Gotham’s Jennifer Cudjoe picking up the first yellow card of the match. Debinha wins a free-kick, but nothing dangerous comes out of it.

In the 51st minute, the Courage scored their second goal of the game with a right-footed shot from center back Abby Erceg. The ball was out of reach for Harris who dove for the low shot. 

Gotham later made a substitution, bringing on new signing Taryn Torres for Cudjoe. They also substituted Nicole Baxter for Nahomi Kawasumi and Ellie Jean for Tucker to help start the attack.

In the 60th minute, Gotham’s Paige Monaghan took a shot from outside the box, but it was saved by Katelyn Rowland. The shot proves to be the last real chance from Gotham for the night. In stoppage time, Debinha had a header on target, but Harris comes up with a big save. The game ended 2-0 favoring the Courage and posing a lot of questions for Gotham.  

What's Next For NJ/NY Gotham FC

Gotham plays the Washington Spirit in the second game of the Challenge Cup on Friday, March 25 at 7:30 p.m. You can watch Gotham on Paramount+.