Lynn Williams delivers as Gotham FC hold off North Carolina Courage

After an offseason flooded with superteam chatter as a result of their additions, Gotham FC relied on their returning star Saturday night.

Gotham secured their second win of the season despite another quiet offensive showing, holding on for a 1-0 victory against the visiting North Carolina Courage at Red Bull Stadium.

Star forward Lynn Williams, healthy after a thigh injury forced her out of the first three games of the season, delivered quickly, putting in a rebound of an Ella Stevens shot in the 11th minute for the game’s lone goal.

Lynn Williams celebrates her goal during Gotham FC’s 1-0 win over the North Carolina Courage on Saturday. Getty Images

“I’m just so proud of us for getting that goal,” said Williams, who played for the Courage from 2017-21 and won two NWSL championships with them. “I’m proud of myself on a personal note. I feel like I’ve been wanting this goal so bad. So, I’m happy it went in. … It’s been really nice to finally get 90 minutes under my belt. Nobody wants to be injured.”

Ann-Katrin Berger, acquired from Chelsea in April, started a second straight game and made five saves to preserve the win.

Her best stop came in the 27th minute when the Courage’s Narumi Miura fired a shot wide left that Berger knocked away with a diving save.

“She is hard to score on in practice. I think though that her soccer knowledge, she’s a veteran of the game,” Williams said. “She’s played in many different leagues. Obviously, she hasn’t played in this one yet so getting up to speed in this league, but she is a brilliant soccer mind.”

After Jenna Nighswonger stole a breakaway from the Courage’s Ashley Sanchez up the middle, Gotham maneuvered the ball back up field where Stevens found an opening for a shot that was blocked but bounced in favor of Williams, who finished for her first goal of the season.

Williams had Gotham hopeful from the start after her opening tally, but they likely hoped for more, having scored just three goals in their first six games of the season.

In the opening minute, she got a breakaway on the left side off of a header by Esther González. Williams’ shot was quickly saved and it yielded a fruitless corner kick, but the header from Emily Sonnett was too high to convert.

Lynn Williams dribbles the ball up the pitch during Saturday night’s 1-0 win over the Courage at Red Bull Arena. Getty Images

The Courage gave an early scare back when Denise O’Sullivan found Ashley Sanchez in the center for an open shot, but Berger made the stop.

Those first few moments were indicative of the rest, which saw Gotham (2-2-2) battling for possession in the hopes of finding a second goal that never came.

More alarming attempts came in the second half, including another cross in the 57th minute when Sanchez laid out for a shot off her right foot from the center, which Berger caught.

Gotham FC celebrates Lynn Williams’ goal in the 11th minute on Saturday night. USA TODAY Sports

“She’s very good in almost every aspect of the game,”  head coach Juan Carlos Amorós said. “She’s great at shot stopping. She’s great at distribution. She takes responsibility. She gives that leadership, that calmness. She’s really showing at the moment why she has been chosen these two games. At the same time, she cannot relax.”

She was saved by the post after a slightly wide right shot from Sanchez and a late scare in the 79th minute, running back to prevent a goal on a breakthrough run from Manaka Matsukubo 35 yards out.

The remainder of the game had flashes of empty offensive opportunities, including a breakthrough opportunity that was stolen from Rose Lavelle on the dribble in added time. Gotham recorded 12 shots, four on frame.

Gotham will next take the field Wednesday against the Houston Dash at Shell Energy Stadium.