Angel City draws with the Courage

Credit: Angel City Football Club
Angel City was on the back foot most of the game, but managed to pick up a point on the road.

When games go Angel City’s way, their opponents often fight back. On the contrary, when little favors them, they usually show flashes of brilliance. And the message shared by the players after such occurrences is always something along the lines of, “you have yet to see the best of us.”

That sentiment was echoed again after Angel City drew the North Carolina Courage 0-0.

The Courage dominated possession (60.4%), limiting Angel City’s attack. When Angel City only managed one shot on goal out of six shots because the Courage cleared Angel City’s deliveries and blocked their shot attempts.

“When we did get on the ball, we were too easy to give it back to them in those transitional moments,” said head coach Freya Coombe about their first half performance. 

Angel City created more chances in the second half with a transitional attack. Arguably their closest opportunity came in the final stoppage time when midfielder Savannah McCaskill’s cross trickled past the multiple defenders. However, goalkeeper Casey Murphy knocked the ball away as forward Katie Johnson fell in front of it.

Despite the lack of offensive production, Angel City played outstanding defense. Even though the Courage piled in pressure, Angel City’s back line helped shut them out. They dealt with the Courage’s crosses and won the ball in the final third. 

“They had a lot of possession and were able to put service into the box, for the most part, we dealt with that service,” Coombe said. “We got ourselves reorganized and we were able to win the ball.”

Former Angel City forward Tyler Lussi was the Courage’s leader up front. She created opportunities in the final third, attempting seven shots (two on goal). Notably, goalkeeper DiDi Haračić stopped a shot of Lussi’s 23 minutes into the game after she took a turn away from defender Paige Nielsen. 

While Lussi had her way in the first half, defender M.A. Vignola pressured her to limit her production in the second half.

“For me, I think in the first half, I was playing passive, and I was just kind of letting her have it,” Vignola said. “In the second half, as a team, we wanted to give them that pressure that we know we can give, and then we know we can come out of it. Being up her back is what one of my strengths is, not letting people have time on the ball and I just brought that in the second half. 

Forward Kerolin was also a handful for Angel City’s defense. Her sharp skill moves posed a challenge, but Angel City shut her down. They supported each other to prevent Kerolin from being one-on-one in dangerous positions. 

One instance of this was 86 minutes into the game, Kerolin cut towards the goal when one-on-one with defender Madison Hammond, but midfielder Lily Nabet supported Hammond and forced her out of bounds. 

“She’s a great player, but we were able to defend her well. The one-v-one defending was good, forcing her outside,” Coombe said. “Individuals did really well in order to balance that… We also had support, where it wasn’t just a case of one player once we got into the box or stayed in line. We were able to send a second player, and it was the teamwork that helped get the job done.”

Angel City’s defense on Lussi and Kerolin helped them earn their first shutout of the season. While they are content earning a point on the road, they believe they can play better. 

“Earning the point tonight was huge, but there is still so much more you guys have to see,” Nielsen said. 

Next, Angel City plays the OL Reign on Saturday with a chance to show another glimpse of what will come.