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 Saturday, April 13, 2002 21:55 EST

Courage remain unbeaten against Spirit

[Associated Press]

SAN DIEGO -- Danielle Slaton's crossing pass deflected off Joy Fawcett for an own goal in the 87th minute, giving the Carolina Courage a 2-1 victory over the San Diego Spirit on Saturday.

The miscue gave the Courage a win in the WUSA season opener for both teams.

Slaton sent a hard crossing pass from the left side that ricocheted off Fawcett's right shin and into the net for the game-winner.

"I was marking my player and I saw her kick it," Fawcett said. "I just stuck my leg out and it hit off my shin. It's just one of those things."

Carolina, which tied for last place in last year's inaugural WUSA season, remained unbeaten against San Diego (3-0-1).

"We've been playing well throughout the preseason," said Courage goaltender Kristin Luckinbill. "We did just enough right today to win."

The Courage also received help on their first goal, credited to Danielle Fotopoulos. After taking a throw-in from Slaton, Fotopoulos fired a low, hard crossing shot that caromed off the thigh of defender Margaret Tietjen and into the goal.

"I thought San Diego had better play," said Carolina coach Marcia McDermott. "But we gutted it out and got a huge win on the road."

The Spirit tied it 1-1 in the 59th minute when Chinese national team member Zhang Ouying scored off a pass from Julie Foudy. Zhang got behind the defense and shot off the fingertips of goaltender Kristin Luckinbill.

Mercy Akide nearly scored for San Diego in the 17th minute, but her shot from 35 yards out hit the crossbar. Six minutes later, teammate Shannon MacMillan shot from nearly the same spot as Akide and also hit the crossbar.

"I'm very disappointed," Spirit coach Carlos Juarez said. "It's horrible to lose, especially your first game at home."

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