Évelyne Viens came off the bench and her fresh legs paid off as the Canadian international scored the game winner in extra time as Gotham FC pulled out a wild 4-3 victory over North Carolina Courage in a National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) match on Tuesday in Montclair, NJ.
Margaret Purce scored twice while Carli Lloyd also found the net for Gotham. Debinha notched two-first half goals for North Carolina while Jessica McDonald opened the scoring after the intermission.
The match was billed as a battle for the league’s east division and lived up to the hype as the two teams combined for five goals in the first 30 minutes of the match. Both sides vied for possession while North Carolina struggled to establish their typical high press against the opposition.
Gotham FC opened the goal scoring in the 18th minute with this quick transition goal from Purce to put the home side ahead early.
North Carolina quickly responded with an opening goal of their own just four minutes later as Hallie Mace, McDonald, and Debinha linked up for the early equalizer.
The Brazilian international collected a brace two minutes later, which gave North Carolina a quick go-ahead goal in the 22nd minute.
The return of the national team players had an immediate impact as Purce connected on a goal once again and provided an equalizer for Gotham FC in the 26th minute.
Gotham FC went ahead 3-2 in the 32nd minute with a goal from Lloyd.
Second half shift
In an attempt to shake things up, Courage coach Paul Riley made immediate substitutions to his back line to start the second half by pulling both starting centerbacks. Kaleigh Kurtz and Diane Caldwell subbed in for Schulyer DeBree and Cari Roccaro.
Gotham’s lead was short lived as the Courage scored in the 50th minute on a goal from McDonald inside the box.
Gotham also won the substitution battle, as Viens scored the game winner in stoppage time.
The win for Gotham FC puts them on top of the Challenge Cup east division standings. They will visit Washington Spirit on April 27. North Carolina Courage now sit in second place, with work to do defensively as they’ve now conceded five goals in their past two matches. Courage will face Racing Louisville FC away on April 26.