North Carolina Courage

The North Carolina Courage is a professional women's soccer team based in Cary, North Carolina. It was founded on January 9, 2017, after Stephen Malik acquired National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) franchise rights from the Western New York Flash.[1] The Courage is affiliated with the men's team North Carolina FC of the United Soccer League and plays its home games at the WakeMed Soccer Park.

North Carolina Courage
FoundedJanuary 9, 2017; 6 years ago (2017-01-09)
StadiumWakeMed Soccer Park
Cary, North Carolina
OwnersSteve Malik
Naomi Osaka
ChairmanSteve Malik
Head coachSean Nahas
LeagueNational Women's Soccer League
20233rd of 12
WebsiteClub website
Current season
Active teams of North Carolina FC

In 2018, the Courage became the first team in NWSL history to win the Shield and the Championship in the same season. In 2019, the team became the first team to win the Championship on its home field.

History edit

2017 edit

On January 9, 2017, the North Carolina Courage announced their formation as the relocated Western New York Flash, with a new home of Cary, North Carolina.[2] The Courage officially hired Paul Riley, the Flash's coach prior to relocation, on January 30, 2017.[3] The team played their first match, on April 15, 2017, against the Washington Spirit, and won 1–0 with a goal by McCall Zerboni.[4] The Courage went on to win the 2017 NWSL Shield and advanced to the 2017 NWSL Championship after defeating the Chicago Red Stars 1–0 in the semifinals, but fell 1–0 to the Portland Thorns in the finals.[5]

2018 edit

In 2018, the Courage had the best season in NWSL history, losing just one of 26 games played during the season. The Courage also participated in and won the inaugural Women's International Champions Cup. Heather O'Reilly scored the only goal in the victory over Olympique Lyon.[6] After clinching the NWSL Shield, the team defeated the Portland Thorns in the 2018 NWSL Championship 3–0. Jessica McDonald was named the NWSL Championship MVP after scoring two goals in the match.[7]

2019 edit

The Courage returned to the Women's International Champions Cup finals, but were defeated by returning finalists Olympique Lyon.[8] The Courage were crowned NWSL Champions for the second consecutive season after defeating the Chicago Red Stars, 4–0 in the 2019 NWSL Championship held in Cary, North Carolina. Debinha was named the NWSL Championship MVP after scoring the fastest goal in NWSL Championship history. The team clinched the NWSL Shield for the third time in as many years on September 21 after defeating Utah Royals FC. The team had an overall record of 15–5–4.[9][10]

2020 edit

With the NWSL season cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Courage participated in the inaugural 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup. They were defeated in the semifinals by Portland Thorns FC.[11] The Courage also participated in the 2020 NWSL Fall Series, finishing in fifth place.[12]

2021 edit

On January 28, 2021, the club announced that professional tennis player Naomi Osaka had made an investment in the team.[13] Osaka stated that she was inspired to take part ownership by those who had invested in her during her career, and that she wishes to "continue the legacy of women empowerment."[14]

The Courage failed to qualify for the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup championship, falling one point short in the East Division to NJ/NY Gotham FC.[15][16]

NWSL abuse scandal edit

On September 30, 2021, the club fired head coach Paul Riley after news of prior sexual abuse allegations emerged against him.[17] The Courage replaced Riley with assistant Sean Nahas in the interim.[18][19]

2022 edit

On December 1, 2021, the Courage named former interim head coach Sean Nahas as head coach for the 2022 season.[20][21]

The Courage won the East Division of the 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup group stage, then defeated Kansas City Current in the knockout stage and Washington Spirit in the championship to win the tournament for the first time.[22]

The Courage spent the first half of the 2022 season in last place, winning only two of its first 12 matches, losing six, and drawing four. Despite rallying to seven wins, two losses, and one draw in its final 10 matches of the season, the Courage finished the season in 7th place, behind Chicago Red Stars by one point, and missed the playoffs for the first time in its history.[23]

2023 edit

In 2023, the Courage were on top of the league standings in July but finished the season in 3rd place, falling in the first round of the playoffs to eventual champions Gotham.[24][25] Forward Kerolin scored 10 goals and was named the NWSL MVP.[25] The Courage won the NWSL Challenge Cup for the second year in a row.[26]

Team name, crest, and colors edit

The team's name is a nod to the original Carolina Courage – who won the 2002 Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA) Founders Cup – as is the stylized lioness image, which matches the head of the lioness on the WUSA team's badge with very minor alterations. The badge features elements from the flag of North Carolina with both the star and the color scheme, the latter keeping in line with the NCFC brand. The lower right point of the star represents the Research Triangle, a geographical region that includes Chapel Hill, Durham, and Raleigh. The Courage's primary colors include "Atlantic blue", "cardinal red," and "Southern gold."[27]

Uniform evolution edit





Sponsorship edit

Period Kit manufacturer Sponsor
2017   Nike BlueCross BlueShield of NC
2018–2022 Continental
2023–present Merz Aesthetics[28]

Stadium edit

WakeMed Soccer Park

The North Carolina Courage play their home games at WakeMed Soccer Park, a soccer-specific stadium owned by Wake County and operated by the Town of Cary. The team shares the venue with North Carolina FC, a USL League One team also owned by Stephen Malik.[29]

The soccer complex consists of a purpose-built main stadium, two lighted practice fields, and four additional fields. The main stadium and the two lighted fields (2 & 3) are all FIFA international regulation size (120 yards x 75 yards). The main stadium seats 10,000 with the expansions of 2012. Field 2 also has 1,000 permanent bleacher seats.

The park is on 150 acres (0.61 km2) that the State of North Carolina has leased to Wake County. Money to build the soccer park came from $14.5 million in county-wide hotel room and prepared food and beverage taxes. The Town of Cary assumed responsibility for operations and maintenance in 2004 from Capital Area Soccer League. On January 26, 2006, the Town of Cary council amended its lease to allow it to sublet the property to Triangle Professional Soccer through the year 2011 for the exclusive promotion of professional soccer and lacrosse events at the complex. This deal was extended for the new ownership group through 2014.[30]

Future stadium proposal edit

On December 6, 2016, along with a name change, North Carolina FC announced plans for a housing and multi-use stadium development — originally announced as seating 24,000, then scaled down to 20,000 seats — in Raleigh, North Carolina, as part of the men's team's bid for a Major League Soccer (MLS) expansion franchise. Team owner Stephen Malik and real-estate developer John Kane led investment in the proposal, purchasing 88 acres of land in 2019 and estimating the total project cost to be $1.9 billion.[31][32][33] The MLS expansion bid was put on hold in 2021[34] along with the stadium plans as the COVID-19 pandemic consumed municipal funding.[35] The project gained former BioAgylitix CEO Jim Datin as an investor in June 2022.[36]

As of February 2023, developers Kane Realty Corp. projected that construction on the broader Downtown South development was expected to begin in spring of 2023, starting with work on a mixed-use residential project planned for completion in 2025. The project's first phase does not include a stadium.[37]

Year-by-year edit

Season NWSL Regular Season Position NWSL Playoffs NWSL Challenge Cup Other Top Scorer
2017 24 16 7 1 38 22 49 Shield Runners-up   Lynn Williams 9
2018 24 17 1 6 53 17 57 Shield Champions ICC Champions   Lynn Williams 14
2019 24 15 5 4 54 23 49 Shield Champions ICC Runners-up   Lynn Williams 12
2020 4 1 2 1 8 10 5 5th n/a Quarterfinals   Debinha 7
2021 24 9 6 9 28 23 33 6th First round 2nd, East Division   Lynn Williams 7
2022 22 9 8 5 46 33 32 7th DNQ Champions   Debinha 12
2023 22 9 7 6 29 22 33 3rd Champions   Kerolin 10

Players edit

Current squad edit

As of November 18, 2023.[38]
No. Pos. Player Nation
0 GK Katelyn Rowland   United States
1 GK Casey Murphy   United States
2 DF Sarah Clark   United States
3 DF Kaleigh Kurtz   United States
4 MF Emily Gray   United States
5 FW Haley Hopkins   United States
6 MF Narumi Miura   Japan
7 DF Malia Berkely   United States
8 MF Brianna Pinto   United States
9 FW Kerolin   Brazil
10 MF Denise O'Sullivan   Republic of Ireland
11 FW Brittany Ratcliffe   United States
12 DF Emily Fox   United States
13 DF Ryan Williams   United States
14 FW Tyler Lussi   United States
15 MF Haleigh Stackpole   United States
17 FW Rikke Madsen   Denmark
18 DF Sydney Collins   Canada
19 MF Frankie Tagliaferri   United States
20 FW Olivia Wingate   United States
21 DF Nikia Smith   United States
22 FW Mille Gejl   Denmark
23 DF Kiki Pickett   United States
24 DF Estelle Johnson   Cameroon
25 MF Meredith Speck   United States
26 MF Clara Robbins   United States
27 MF Rikako Kobayashi   Japan
28 FW Tess Boade   United States
34 MF Manaka Matsukubo (on loan from MyNavi Sendai)   Japan
44 GK Marisa Bova   United States
99 MF Victoria Pickett   Canada

Out on loan edit

No. Pos. Player Nation
55 GK Hensley Hancuff (at Växjö DFF until December 31, 2024[39])   United States

Staff edit

As of April 29, 2023.[40][41][42]
Chairman Stephen Malik
President Francie Gottsegen
Chief soccer officer Curt Johnson
Assistant general manager Bobby Hammond
Head coach   Sean Nahas
Assistant coach   Nathan Thackeray
Assistant coach   Emma Thomson

Head coaching history edit

Name Nationality From To
Paul Riley   England January 9, 2017 September 30, 2021
Sean Nahas (interim)   United States September 30, 2021 December 1, 2021
Sean Nahas   United States December 1, 2021 present

Honors edit

Broadcasting edit

In 2019, the NWSL broadcast partnership with A&E was terminated a year early, all games would be streamed on Yahoo! Sports in the United States and on the NWSL website for international viewers.[43]

In 2018, Courage games continued to be streamed on Go90, the NWSL website and select games were broadcast on Lifetime. After Go90 was shut down by Verizon on July 30, all games were available for streaming on the NWSL website.[44]

In 2017, Courage games were streamed exclusively by Go90 for American audiences and via the NWSL website for international viewers.[45] As part of a three-year agreement with A&E Networks, Lifetime broadcasts one NWSL Game of the Week on Saturday afternoons.[46][47] In 2017 season, the Courage were featured in national Lifetime NWSL Game of the Week broadcasts on June 3, July 1, August 19, and July 15, 2017.[48]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "North Carolina Football Club enters into agreement to acquire rights to NWSL's 2016 champions Western New York Flash". January 9, 2017. Archived from the original on January 10, 2017. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
  2. ^ Moritz, Amy (January 9, 2017). "It's official: WNY Flash sold, will move to North Carolina". Buffalo News. Retrieved July 15, 2022.
  3. ^ Cleveland, Parker (January 30, 2017). "NC Courage hire Paul Riley as first head coach". Dirty South Soccer. Retrieved July 15, 2022.
  4. ^ Lauletta, Dan (April 15, 2017). "Courage debut with 1-0 win in Washington". The Equalizer. Retrieved July 30, 2022.
  5. ^ "Portland Thorns beat North Carolina Courage to win NWSL title". USA Today. Associated Press. October 14, 2017. Retrieved July 30, 2022.
  6. ^ "NC Courage win first ever Women's International Champions Cup". WRAL. July 30, 2018. Retrieved July 30, 2022.
  7. ^ Jones, Kaelen (September 22, 2018). "NC Courage Beats Portland Thorns FC, Wins First-Ever NWSL Championship". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved July 30, 2022.
  8. ^ Hays, Graham (August 18, 2019). "ICC title win over N.C. Courage has Lyon on top of the world". ESPN. Retrieved July 30, 2022.
  9. ^ "North Carolina Courage Win N.W.S.L. Title". New York Times. Associated Press. October 27, 2019. Retrieved July 30, 2022.
  10. ^ Tennery, Amy (October 27, 2019). "Courage take second consecutive NWSL title with 4-0 win". Reuters. Retrieved July 30, 2022.
  11. ^ Creditor, Avi (July 17, 2020). "NWSL Challenge Cup Blown Wide Open After Thorns Stun Top-Seeded Courage". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved July 30, 2022.
  12. ^ Herrera, Sandra (October 17, 2020). "NWSL Fall Series: Orlando Pride storm back from three-goal deficit to draw North Carolina Courage". CBS Sports. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  13. ^ "Osaka backs NWSL's North Carolina Courage". ESPN. Reuters. January 28, 2021. Retrieved July 30, 2022.
  14. ^ Brito, Christopher (January 28, 2021). "Naomi Osaka becomes co-owner of women's soccer team North Carolina Courage". CBS News. Retrieved January 29, 2021.
  15. ^ Kriger, Rachael (May 1, 2021). "North Carolina, Orlando fight to scoreless draw; final slot down to NC and Gotham". The Equalizer. Retrieved July 15, 2022.
  16. ^ Munson, Bella (May 2, 2021). "Scoreless draw against Racing advance Gotham to Challenge Cup Championship". The Equalizer. Retrieved July 15, 2022.
  17. ^ Linehan, Meg. "'This guy has a pattern': Amid institutional failure, former NWSL players accuse prominent coach of sexual coercion". The Athletic.
  18. ^ "North Carolina Courage Terminate Head Coach Paul Riley, Effective Immediately" (Press release). North Carolina Courage. OurSports Central. September 30, 2021. Retrieved July 15, 2022.
  19. ^ Wiseman, Steve; DeCock, Luke (September 30, 2021). "NC Courage fires coach Paul Riley after allegations of sexual coercion surface". The News & Observer. Retrieved July 15, 2022.
  20. ^ "North Carolina Courage name Sean Nahas head coach after 3 months as interim". The Athletic. December 1, 2021. Retrieved July 15, 2022.
  21. ^ USL Digital (December 1, 2021). "Sean Nahas Named Head Coach of the North Carolina Courage" (Press release). North Carolina Courage. Retrieved July 15, 2022.
  22. ^ "North Carolina Courage beat Washington Spirit to win 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup". The Athletic. May 7, 2022. Retrieved April 6, 2023.
  23. ^ Musarurwa, Kudzi (October 3, 2022). "The NWSL Playoffs are just over the horizon". All For XI. Retrieved April 6, 2023.
  24. ^ "Recap: Courage fall in Los Angeles Sunday". North Carolina Courage. July 9, 2023. Retrieved December 3, 2023.
  25. ^ a b "North Carolina Courage forward Kerolin named the 2023 NWSL MVP". Associated Press. November 10, 2023. Retrieved December 3, 2023.
  26. ^ Yang, Steph (November 9, 2023). "North Carolina Courage defeat Racing Louisville 2-0 in 2023 NWSL Challenge Cup final". The Athletic. Retrieved December 3, 2023.
  27. ^ "The New State of Soccer: We Are Now North Carolina FC". Archived from the original on December 10, 2016. Retrieved December 6, 2016.
  28. ^ "Courage and Merz Aesthetics expand partnership". NC Courage. Retrieved January 30, 2023.
  29. ^ deBruyn, Jason (January 9, 2017). "Pro Women's Soccer Returns To North Carolina". WUNC. Retrieved July 30, 2022.
  30. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on July 14, 2014. Retrieved July 4, 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  31. ^ "RailHawks announce plans to pursue MLS bid, stadium". News & Observer. December 6, 2016. Archived from the original on December 8, 2016. Retrieved December 6, 2016.
  32. ^ Smith, Rick (July 18, 2019). "Serial entrepreneur Malik, developer Kane plan $1.9B soccer/entertainment/housing project in Raleigh". WRAL TechWire. Retrieved July 30, 2022.
  33. ^ Sánchez-Guerra, Aaron. "Developers buy land for Southeast Raleigh soccer stadium project". The News & Observer. Archived from the original on November 12, 2020.
  34. ^ Williams, Bob (February 1, 2021). "North Carolina FC's MLS expansion bid put on hold". SportBusiness. Retrieved July 30, 2022.
  35. ^ Owens, Adam (November 19, 2021). "Planned stadium for Raleigh's Downtown South development on hold". WRAL-TV. Retrieved July 30, 2022.
  36. ^ Ohnesorge, Lauren (June 28, 2022). "Why a Chapel Hill life sciences exec is pouring $13 million into a downtown Raleigh real estate project". Triangle Business Journal. Retrieved July 30, 2022.
  37. ^ Thompson, Kayli (February 6, 2023). "Finally! Downtown South eyes start of construction". Triangle Business Journal. Retrieved April 6, 2023.
  38. ^
  39. ^
  40. ^ "Ownership". North Carolina Courage. Retrieved April 29, 2023.
  41. ^ "Technical Staff". North Carolina Courage. Retrieved April 29, 2023.
  42. ^ "Front Office". North Carolina Courage. Retrieved April 29, 2023.
  43. ^ "A+E Networks and NWSL end partnership". February 20, 2019. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  44. ^ "NWSL will stream games on website in August and September after go90 shuts down". July 2, 2018. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  45. ^ "NWSL, go90 announce exclusive streaming partnership". Black and Red United (SBNation). Vox Media. April 13, 2017. Retrieved April 14, 2017.
  46. ^ "Lifetime To Air National Women's Soccer League Games As A+E Networks Kicks In For Equity Stake". February 2, 2017. Retrieved February 3, 2017.
  47. ^ "A+E Networks, National Women's Soccer League Ink Major Deal". Variety. February 2, 2017. Retrieved February 3, 2017.
  48. ^ "North Carolina Courage will be feature in five NWSL Game of the Week broadcasts". Vavel. April 1, 2017. Retrieved April 26, 2017.

External links edit