North Carolina Courage
FoundedJanuary 9, 2017; 4 years ago (2017-01-09)
StadiumSahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park
Cary, North Carolina
OwnerStephen Malik
Naomi Osaka
General managerCurt Johnson
Interim head coachSean Nahas
LeagueNational Women's Soccer League
2019Regular season: 1st
Playoffs: Champions
WebsiteClub website
Current season
Active teams of North Carolina FC

The North Carolina Courage is a professional women's soccer team based in Cary, North Carolina. It was founded in 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 Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park.

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.


See also: Western New York Flash

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The North Carolina Courage relocated to Cary, NC in 2017 from Western New York. The team played the Washington Spirit for their first match and defeated the team 1–0 with a goal by McCall Zerboni. 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 NWSL Semifinal. The team fell 1–0 to the Portland Thorns in the 2017 NWSL Championship.

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 first place in the inaugural Women's International Champions Cup. Heather O'Reilly scored the only goal in the defeat over Olympique Lyon. 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.

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 Saturday, September 21 after defeating Utah Royals FC. The team had an overall record of 15W-4D-5L.

On January 28, 2021, it was announced that professional tennis player Naomi Osaka had made an investment in the team.[2] 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."[3]

On September 30, 2021, the club fired head coach Paul Riley after news of prior sexual abuse allegations emerged against him.[4]

Team name, crest, and colors

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."[5]

Uniform evolution






Period Kit manufacturer Sponsor
2017 United States Nike BlueCross BlueShield of NC
2018– Continental


WakeMed Soccer Park

Main article: WakeMed Soccer Park

The North Carolina Courage play their home games at WakeMed Soccer Park, a soccer-specific stadium shared by North Carolina FC, a team in the United Soccer League also owned by Stephen Malik.

The soccer complex consists of a purpose-built main stadium, two lighted practice fields, and four additional fields. The main stadium and the 2 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.[6]

On December 6, 2016, along with a name change, North Carolina FC announced plans for a stadium seating 24,000.[7]


Season NWSL Regular Season Position NWSL Playoffs Top Scorer
2017 24 16 7 1 38 22 49 Shield Runners-up United States Lynn Williams 9
2018 24 17 1 6 53 17 57 Shield Champions United States Lynn Williams 14
2019 24 15 5 4 54 23 49 Shield Champions United States Lynn Williams 12


Current squad

As of July 22, 2021.[8]
No. Pos. Player Nation
1 GK Casey Murphy  United States
2 DF Taylor Smith  United States
3 DF Kaleigh Kurtz  United States
4 DF Carson Pickett  United States
5 MF Sam Mewis  United States
6 DF Abby Erceg (captain)  New Zealand
7 DF Diane Caldwell  Republic of Ireland
8 MF Denise O'Sullivan  Republic of Ireland
9 FW Lynn Williams  United States
10 MF Debinha  Brazil
11 DF Merritt Mathias  United States
12 FW Amy Rodriguez  United States
13 DF Ryan Williams  United States
14 FW Jessica McDonald  United States
15 DF Schuyler DeBree  United States
19 MF Havana Solaun  Jamaica
20 DF Lindsay Agnew  Canada
21 MF Cari Roccaro  United States
22 DF Hailey Harbison  United States
24 MF Peyton Perea  United States
25 MF Meredith Speck  United States
27 FW Brittany Ratcliffe  United States
29 FW Rylee Baisden  United States
30 DF Kendall Fletcher  United States
34 MF Angharad James  Wales
42 GK Samantha Murphy  United States


As of September 30, 2021.[9]
Owner Stephen Malik
General Manager
Curt Johnson[10]
Coaching Staff
Interim head coach United States Sean Nahas[11]
Assistant coach United States Scott Vallow
Assistant coach England Nathan Thackeray
Assistant coach United States Bill Paladino
Assistant coach England Emma Thomson



See also: National Women's Soccer League § Broadcasting

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.[12]

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.[13]

In 2017, Courage games were streamed exclusively by Go90 for American audiences and via the NWSL website for international viewers.[14] As part of a three-year agreement with A&E Networks, Lifetime broadcasts one NWSL Game of the Week on Saturday afternoons.[15][16] 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.[17]

See also


  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. ^ "Osaka backs NWSL's North Carolina Courage". January 28, 2021. Retrieved January 29, 2021.
  3. ^ "Naomi Osaka becomes co-owner of women's soccer team North Carolina Courage". Retrieved January 29, 2021.
  4. ^
  5. ^ "The New State of Soccer: We Are Now North Carolina FC". Archived from the original on December 10, 2016. Retrieved December 6, 2016.
  6. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on July 14, 2014. Retrieved July 4, 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "RailHawks announce plans to pursue MLS bid, stadium". News & Observer. December 6, 2016. Retrieved December 6, 2016.
  8. ^ Whiteside, Matthew (April 5, 2021). "NC COURAGE ANNOUNCES 2021 ROSTER". North Carolina Courage. Retrieved April 6, 2021.
  9. ^ "Coaching Staff". North Carolina Courage. Retrieved February 9, 2021.
  10. ^ "NORTH CAROLINA COURAGE SELECTS FOUR IN CLUB'S FIRST NWSL DRAFT". North Carolina Courage. January 12, 2017. Archived from the original on January 16, 2017.
  11. ^
  12. ^ "A+E Networks and NWSL end partnership". February 20, 2019. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  13. ^ "NWSL will stream games on website in August and September after go90 shuts down". July 2, 2018. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  14. ^ "NWSL, go90 announce exclusive streaming partnership". Black and Red United (SBNation). Vox Media. Retrieved April 14, 2017.
  15. ^ "Lifetime To Air National Women's Soccer League Games As A+E Networks Kicks In For Equity Stake". Retrieved February 3, 2017.
  16. ^ "A+E Networks, National Women's Soccer League Ink Major Deal". Variety. Retrieved February 3, 2017.
  17. ^ "North Carolina Courage will be feature in five NWSL Game of the Week broadcasts". Vavel. April 1, 2017. Retrieved April 26, 2017.