CARY — Kerolin and Manaka Matsukubo each scored and the North Carolina Courage beat Racing Louisville 2-0 on Saturday to win the National Women’s Soccer League Challenge Cup for the second consecutive year.
After a two-hour lightning delay, Kerolin scored in the 28th minute, getting a ball over the top from Narumi Miura and beating goalkeeper Katie Lund at the near post from a tight angle.
The 19-year-old Matsukubo doubled the lead in the 54th minute, running onto and volleying a chipped pass into the box from Tess Boade to become the youngest player to start and score in a Challenge Cup final.
Louisville had some chances. Nadia Nadim flicked Savannah DeMelo’s cross off the post. Ary Borges connected with a corner kick to force goalkeeper Casey Murphy into a tough save in the 77th minute. Another Louisville corner bounced just in front of the goal minutes later.
Kerolin had a chance in the 6th minute when she received a through ball and was alone against Lund, who reacted quickly to block the shot with her right leg. Lund finished with nine saves.
It was the best chance before the game went into a lightning delay in the 11th minute.
The Courage kept up the pressure when play resumed. Matsukubo received a pass from Kerolin and fired a shot from close range that Lund pushed off the post in the 18th minute.
“We appreciate you and hope our final game at home in October can be a stadium filler,” Courage coach Sean Nahas said on X in a message directed at the team’s fans. “A wonderful day today for these players and club.”