Denise O'Sullivan stars as North Carolina Courage crowned NWSL champions

Sun, Sep 23 2018

The Cork native joined North Carolina Courage from Houston Dash last summer. Credit: Peter Fitzpatrick (ETPhotos)

Republic of Ireland international Denise O'Sullivan helped North Carolina Courage to the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) league title with victory over Portland Thorns.

O'Sullivan played 90 minutes in midfield as a goal from Debinha and a brace from striker Jessica McDonald saw the Cary-based side to a comfortable victory in the final at Providence Park in Portland.

The former Wilton United, Peamount United and Cork City midfielder has seen her career transformed since moving from Houston Dash a little over 12 months ago.

The Corkwoman was voted the club's Most Valuable Player at the end of the regular season by her own teammates and continued that form into the post-season calendar.

The Courage were drawn to play on their opponents' turf but they made all the early running and took the lead as early as the 13th minute.

Brazilian international midfielder Debinha broke the deadlock with a header from close range after Lynn Williams' shot had struck the crossbar and rebounded out.

The first half was an open and even affair but it was North Carolina who extended their lead just before half time as McDonald planted her header past Portland goalkeeper Adrianna Franch.

And McDonald doubled her tally with the Courage's third midway through the second half as she tapped home Merrit Mathias' cross.

The North Carolina side's 13th clean sheet of the season saw them finish the play-offs without conceding a single goal in knockout play.