CARY, North Carolina (Reuters) - North Carolina Courage won their second successive NWSL championship on Sunday with a comprehensive 4-0 victory over the Chicago Red Stars in front of a sell-out home crowd in Cary.
The home side, who were the best team in the regular season and topped the standings five points clear of second-placed Chicago, coped best with the heat and humidity in front of 10,227 fans at Sahlen’s stadium.
“It was a hotter today than we expected and we needed to share the load and you know we had four different goal scorers,” said Crystal Dunn, who scored Courage’s third. “I always said this team is so hard to beat because who are you going to stop on our team?”
“We got up on them early and I think that really helped us in the end.”
Brazilian midfielder Debinha gave the Courage the perfect start when she fired home after four minutes before striker Jessica McDonald doubled their lead with a header 22 minutes later.
Dunn completed a dominant first half when she battled her way through the Chicago defence to score the third on the stroke of halftime.
Samantha Mewis completed the rout with a header after 61 minutes.
The team from Cary became the second club in NWSL history to win back-to-back titles and the first to win the league in front of their own fans.
“It is a final and we are playing against a top team this year and we obviously did not think the score would be four-zero,” Dunn said. “So we are really proud of our effort.”
Debinha, who had been controversially left off of the NWSL’s best XI lists, was named the MVP of the season.
Reporting by Andrew Downie,; Editing by Christian Radnedge and Ed Osmond