Late goal lifts Courage into ICC Cup title game

Jessica McDonald, who helped the U.S. win the World Cup this summer, scores the game-winner after a 73-minute lightning delay

Jessica McDonald, left, runs after the ball during the Women's World Cup match between United States and Chile on June 16 in Paris. (Alessandra Tarantino / AP Photo)

CARY — U.S. Women’s National Team member Jessica McDonald scored the game-winner in stoppage time. But it took an assist from Mother Nature to lift the host North Carolina Courage to a 2-1 victory against Manchester City on Thursday and into the championship match of the International Champions Cup at Sahlen’s Stadium in Cary.

The Courage, the event’s defending champion, will take on Olympique Lyonnais on Sunday in a rematch of last year’s title match. Olympique Lyonnais advanced by beating Atletico Madrid 1-0 Thursday on a late goal by French defender Wendie Reynard.

It also took some late magic for the Courage to advance in the second game of the international soccer tournament.

First, though, the defending NWSL champions had to wait out a 73-minute lightning delay midway through the second half.

Trailing 1-0 at the time on a goal by Manchester City’s Georgia Stanway in the 42nd minute, the Courage used the unscheduled break to regroup and came out a different team once play resumed.

The host team tied the score in the 84th minute when substitute McKenzie Meehan headed in a corner kick from teammate Heather O’Reilly for the first goal of her professional career. 

Then, with the game looking as though it might be headed for overtime, McDonald came through with her game-winner. It came on a play in which Jaelene Hinkle sent a pass from the left wing to McDonald sprinting down the middle of the field.

The Manchester City goalie came out to challenge, but McDonald got her shot off first and it went into the net.

McDonald, along with Crystal Dunn and Samantha Mewis, was playing her first game back with the Courage after helping the U.S. win the World Cup.

Sunday’s championship match is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., with the consolation game between Manchester City and Atletico Madrid to be played earlier in the day.