For the second year in a row — and the third time in six seasons — the Portland Thorns championship game opponent will be the National Women's Soccer League's regular-season champion.
And for the second year in a row that team is the North Carolina Courage.
Jessica McDonald scored early and Samantha Mewis scored late as the Courage beat the Chicago Red Stars, 2-0, in a semifinal match played in front of 4,646 fans at Providence Park. The game was moved from Cary North Carolina to Portland because of Hurricane Florence.
The championship game is at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Providence Park.
McDonald scored in the fifth minute for the Courage.
Receiving an upfield pass from Crystal Dunn, McDonald got a step on Julie Ertz and beat goalkeeper Alyssa Neaher low to the far post.
The second goal was a spectacular shot rifled home from distance in the 86th minute by Mewis, effectively clinching the championship game berth for the Courage. North Carolina dominated the regular season, going 17-6-1 and beating the Thorns three times.
Chicago, which fell to 0-4 in semifinal playoff games, had its share of chances. The Red Stars were the better team in the first half and saw shots in the first nine minutes from Vanessa Di Bernardo and Sam Kerr that hit the frame.
In the second half, the Courage limited the Red Stars opportunities.
Chicago had a chance in the 67th minute when Alyssa Mautz sent in a cross that both Yuki Nagasato and Kerr failed to meet in the 6-yard box.
A 73rd-minute Red Stars free kick by Danielle Colaprico from just outside the penalty area on the left wing narrowly missed as Morgan Brian went crashing into the post.
• Portland beat North Carolina last season 1-0 in the championship match played at Orlando. In 2013, the NWSL's first season, the Thorns won 2-0 at Western New York in the final match. Western New York moved to North Carolina last season — after beating the Thorns in the 2016 semifinals at Providence Park.
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