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North Carolina Courage defeated Racing Louisville FC 5-0 during a rainy affair in Cary, North Carolina. The Courage broke through early with an opening goal from Abby Erceg in the seventh minute before recording four more goals during the second half as Debinha, Lynn Williams, and Hallie Mace turned the match into a blowout. The lopsided victory was North Carolina's first win of the 2021 regular season. 

Let's take a look at three takeaways from the Courage big five goal win

The return of Sam Mewis

U.S. national team midfielder Sam Mewis made her return to the team and played a planned 70 minutes. Mewis slotted back into North Carolina's famed box midfield and immediately made impact on the pitch with her teammates around her, allowing for more interchanging play between the lines. Here's what Courage head coach Paul Riley had to say about the midfielders return to the starting lineup:

"I think [Debinha and Sam] were exceptional tonight, Sam being on the field allowed both [Denise] O'Sullivan and [Havana] Solaun to get on the ball more. Sam gives us a different lift and a different look: she made great exchanges vertically with Havana and horizontally with Debinha, and really linked our attacking play up. It's great to have her back, she's phenomenal."

Debinha's relentless engine

The Brazilian midfielder had an impressive performance against Racing Louisville as she scored one goal and recorded two assists. She connected with Lynn Williams for North Carolina's go-ahead goal in the 63rd minute.

Courage appeared to be getting back to the dominant soccer so many have been used to watching them play after the team got off to a slower start than usual in the regular season, going winless in their first two matches and having their 23 game home win streak snapped the week prior in a loss against Orlando Pride. Williams believes the victory is representative of the team and what they're capable of.

"I think that this game [represented] the Courage...we really were focusing on putting away our opportunities, and tonight that's what we did. We made a point to put the game away."

Even as coach Riley began to make substitutions, the team still extended the lead and just kept scoring, including this fourth goal set up outside the box by Debinha for Hallie Mace.

Carson Pickett as the outside back solution

There were lots of question marks before the 2021 season kicked off for the Courage, specifically about how their roster would look in light of so many offseason departures and missing pieces including the retirement of former standout left back Jaelene Daniels. The solution for North Carolina was the offseason acquisition Carson Pickett from the Orlando Pride. 

The outside back has an 80.4% passing completion and 56.3% duel success percentage in her three regular season matches with North Carolina so far, and helped her team dominate the flank against Louisville.

via NWSL site

Look Ahead

The win for North Carolina means they jump into the top six, settled into second place in the league table with a heavy goal differential after a winless two weeks. The Courage will now plain the road after their two game homestead and will face Chicago Red Stars on June 5.