The Kansas City Current (3-7-0, 9pts) kicked off the month of June with a 1-0 win over the North Carolina Courage (4-4-2, 14pts) at the team’s annual Pride Night, presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City. An early goal from forward Kristen Hamilton, making her first start after returning from a preseason injury, was the difference in the match. Kansas City remains unbeaten in the 2023 campaign when scoring first.
“Our plan was to have [Hamilton] for 45 minutes, to show the energy that she has but also how effective she is with her goal scoring,” said interim head coach Caroline Sjöblom. “She just needs one opportunity and one touch and today she showed how good she is.”
“I’m just so excited to be back on the field,” said Hamilton. “You don’t realize how much you miss it until you are back there doing it. It’s been a long journey and it’s been eight long weeks of not playing and just grinding. I’m just happy to be back on the field.”
Kansas City kicked off the action in the eighth minute, when midfielder Debinha charged down the right-hand side and slid a centering pass to Hamilton. Goalkeeper Casey Murphy dove to try and stop the attempt, but the forward tucked it under her into the lower left corner for her first goal of the season.
The Current had several other great chances throughout the first half. Midfielder Cece Kizer had back-to-back chances spaced only a few minutes apart. The forward found a breakaway in the 23rd minute, but her shot was intercepted and pushed out of bounds.
Just three minutes later, defender Hailie Mace flicked a ball to find Hamilton, who tapped it forward as Debinha made a loping run behind the Courage defense. She laid it back for Kizer, who hit a shot with one touch that rolled just wide.
The Kansas City defense, anchored by goalkeeper Cassie Miller, prevented the Courage from taking a single shot throughout the first half. In the 38th minute, Mace chased North Carolina forward Tyler Lussi down the right side and made a sliding tackle to prevent the forward from sending in a cross.
Just before halftime, Miller herself came up huge, sprinting off her line to prevent a breakaway from Kerolin.
The Current nearly capitalized off two set piece opportunities in the second half. In the 50th minute, LaBonta was fouled just on the edge of the penalty box. Debinha stepped up and slammed the ball into the side netting.
Midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo nearly got on the board in the 74th minute. After charging into the midst of five defenders, DiBernardo made some space for herself and curled a rocket to the far post that sailed just wide.
The Kansas City Current travels to Seattle to take on OL Reign on Saturday, June 10 with kickoff at 9pm CT. The team returns home for UKG NWSL Challenge Cup play on Wednesday, June 14, when the club hosts the Chicago Red Stars. Season tickets, flex plans and single match tickets are available for all home matches at Children’s Mercy Park. For pricing and information, visit kansascitycurrent.com.
NWSL Match Report
Match: Kansas City Current vs. North Carolina Courage
Date: June 3, 2023
Venue: Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City, KS
Kickoff: 7:37 p.m. CT
Weather: 85 degrees, sunny
68’ North Carolina – Kerolin (Yellow)
75’ North Carolina – Speck (Yellow)
88’ North Carolina – Pinto (Yellow)
90+1’ Kansas City – Mace (Yellow)
8’ Kansas City – Hamilton (Debinha)
Kansas City Current Lineup: Miller, Robinson, Soto, Merrick (73’ Winebrenner), Mace, LaBonta ©, DiBernardo, Del Fava, Debinha (89’ Larsson), Kizer (81’ Rodriguez), Hamilton (46’ Cooper)
Unused Substitutes: Franch, Gautrat, Childers, Curran, Spaanstra
North Carolina Courage Lineup: Murphy, Fox, Berkely (83’ Gejl), Kurtz, Williams, Miura (77’ Pinto), Speck (77’ V. Pickett), Kerolin, O’Sullivan ©, Lussi (64’ Wingate), Madsen (65’ Boade)
Unused Substitutes: Alvarado, Petersen, Solaun, Viggiano