US Women beat NC Courage 6-3 for $1 million TST prize

Elaina Athans Image
Tuesday, June 11, 2024
NC Courage one game away from $1 million in TST
NC Courage will play tonight in TST Finals for a chance at $1 million top prize.

CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Two $1 million prizes will be awarded to the winning teams in this year's TST in Cary.

The North Carolina Courage beat Streetball FC Canada 2-0 in the semi-finals to advance to the women's final, where they played the US Women, which boast legends of the women's game including Carli Lloyd, who is an assistant coach, and Heather O'Reilly.

The US Women held off a spirited effort by the Courage to win 6-3 and take home the $1 million women's prize.

The US Women took the lead with just under six minutes left in the first half when Kennedy Kessler's fierce left-footed shot was parried but Alex Kimball was there to clean up for the tap-in.

The Courage were under fire most of the first half as the US Women came close with long-distance shots on several possessions. The Courage saved a second US goal off the line in the waning moments of the first half.

Then the tide turned. The Courage sent in a long cross into the box and Jessica McDonald beat the keeper on a header that bounced up off the top of the crossbar. With the ball bouncing around, Grace Brian was there to tap it in right at the end of the half.

The teams went into the break tied 1-1, but it took only about a minute for the US to regain the lead. Casey Loyd rocketed a direct free kick into the back of the net and it was 2-1.

The Courage fought back and leveled it at 2-2 on a free kick that squirted through and was deflected in by Courtney Claassen.

Again, the US answered. Stephanie McCaffrey split three defenders and scored to the far post to make it 3-2 midway through the half.

But for the third time, the Courage responded almost immediately. After a great give and go, Samantha Witteman slotted it home to make it 3-3.

The pattern continued as Bella Sember, a junior at UNC-Chapel Hill, blistered a left-footed shot to the top of the far post to give the US Women a 4-3 lead.

The US women padded the lead to 5-3 when Kessler turned and finished just before the end of the half.

The teams then went to Target Score Time, with 6 being the magic number to win the match. That meant the US needed a single goal to claim the big prize while the Courage would need to find the net three times.

Talia Dellaperuta, a former Tar Heel, scored the million-dollar goal for the US Women.

"It's been a whirlwind of a few days, and to be able to be in the final and competing for the $1 million prize money in the inaugural year of the event, it's really exciting to go up against the US Women's Team. There's some marquee household names on that team," said NCFC and NC Courage President Francie Gottsegen.

She said that if the Courage would have win, half of the money would go to the club and the other half would be split among the players, which would average out to $23,000 a player.

"It's a big payday for them and the club," said Gottsegen.

Men's championship

La Bombonera FC claimed the men's $1 million prize with a scintillating performance against Nani FC in the men's final.

La Bombonera not only won but blanked the team named after its international star, Portugal's Luis Nani, 4-0.

Nani FC had ousted defending TST champion Newtown Price FC in the semifinals and had looked like the most talented team throughout the tournament. But La Bombonera, made up primarily of experienced indoor soccer pros from Mexico, were the more complete and fit team.


Deleware-based La Bombonera scored just 17 seconds into the game on a defensive blunder by Nani FC and never looked back, leading 1-0 at the half and 3-0 at the end of the second.

And now, the new TST men's champion is taking home a cool million.

Money for the surrounding area

The economic impact of the tournament is more than just the two prize-winning teams. Area tourism leaders said the tournament is a big economic boom for Cary and the Triangle.

It'll take a couple of weeks to know the final economic impact of this tournament. The early estimate is that the event will bring in $15 million. If you do the math, that comes out to an average of $2.5 million for each day of the tournament.

Small businesses are feeling that boost.

Greg Norton expanded his family's pizza shop from the streets of Brooklyn to the heart of Downtown Cary. He owns Di Fara Pizza Taverna and donated food every day to folks volunteering at the tournament.

Norton has seen his sales rise by about 40%.

"New faces (are) coming around. It's better for everybody. It's better for the community. It's a win-win for everybody here," he said.

Norton has been watching the games this last week on the sidelines but will be attending the championship game with his entire family.

He hopes to see the hometown team win on their own turf.

"We're so happy that Team Courage is in the championship and we all, we're definitely rooting for them. They're part of the community. They're part of the fabric of this family as well," said Norton.