North Carolina Courage

The North Carolina Courage is a professional women's soccer team based in Cary, North Carolina. Its former incarnation, the Western New York Flash, was a founding member of the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL), the top level of women's soccer in the U.S., in 2013. They relocated to North Carolina for 2017.[1] They are affiliated with the men's team North Carolina FC of the United Soccer League, and play their home games at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park.

North Carolina Courage
Full nameNorth Carolina Courage
Founded2009 (as Buffalo Flash)
2011 (as Western New York Flash)
2017 (as Courage)
StadiumSahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park
Cary, North Carolina
OwnerStephen Malik
General ManagerCurt Johnson
Head CoachPaul Riley
LeagueNational Women's Soccer League
20191st Place
Playoffs: Champions
WebsiteClub website
Active teams of North Carolina FC

In 2018 the North Carolina Courage became the first team in NWSL history to win the NWSL Shield and the NWSL Championship in the same season. In 2019, the team was the first team to win an NWSL Championship on their home field.


2019 | The North Carolina Courage were crowned NWSL Champions for the second consecutive season after defeating the Chicago Red Stars, 4-0 in the 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.

2018 | The North Carolina 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.

2017 | 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.

Team name, crest, and colors

The North Carolina Courage 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."[2]


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


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.[3]

On December 6, 2016, along with a name change, North Carolina FC announced plans for a stadium seating 24,000.[4]


Season NWSL Regular Season Position NWSL Playoffs
2017 241671382249 Shield Runner-Up
2018 241716531757 Shield Champions
2019 241554542349 Shield Champions
Top Scorer
Season Player Nation Goals
2017 Lynn Williams  United States 9
2018 Lynn Williams  United States 14
2019 Lynn Williams  United States 12


Current squad

As of July 18, 2019.[5][6]
No. Position Player Nation
1 Goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé  Canada
3 Defender Kaleigh Kurtz  United States
4 Forward McKenzie Meehan  United States
5 Midfielder Samantha Mewis  United States
6 Defender Abby Erceg (captain)  New Zealand
7 Midfielder McCall Zerboni  United States
8 Midfielder Denise O'Sullivan  Ireland
9 Forward Lynn Williams  United States
10 Forward Debinha  Brazil
11 Defender Merritt Mathias  United States
12 Forward Leah Pruitt  United States
13 Defender Abby Dahlkemper  United States
14 Forward Jessica McDonald  United States
15 Defender Jaelene Hinkle  United States
16 Midfielder Julia Spetsmark  Sweden
17 Midfielder Heather O'Reilly  United States
19 Forward Crystal Dunn  United States
20 Midfielder Ryan Williams  United States
21 Midfielder Cari Roccaro  United States
23 Forward Kristen Hamilton  United States
25 Midfielder Meredith Speck  United States
26 Defender Hailey Harbison  United States
27 Midfielder Lauren Milliet  United States
37 Goalkeeper Sam Leshnak  United States
99 Goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland  United States


Owner Stephen Malik
General Manager
Curt Johnson[7]
Coaching Staff
Head coach Paul Riley
Assistant coach Scott Vallow
Assistant coach Sean Nahas
Assistant coach Nathan Thackeray
Assistant coach Bill Paladino



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.[8]

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.[9]

In 2017, Courage games were streamed exclusively by Go90 for American audiences and via the NWSL website for international viewers.[10] As part of a three-year agreement with A&E Networks, Lifetime broadcasts one NWSL Game of the Week on Saturday afternoons.[11][12] 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.[13]

See also


  1. "North Carolina Football Club enters into agreement to acquire rights to NWSL's 2016 champions Western New York Flash". 9 January 2017. Archived from the original on 10 January 2017. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
  2. "The New State of Soccer: We Are Now North Carolina FC". Archived from the original on December 10, 2016. Retrieved December 6, 2016.
  3. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on July 14, 2014. Retrieved July 4, 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. "RailHawks announce plans to pursue MLS bid, stadium". News & Observer. December 6, 2016. Retrieved December 6, 2016.
  5. "NORTH CAROLINA COURAGE ANNOUNCE 2019 ROSTER IN ADVANCE OF HOME OPENER". North Carolina Courage. 8 April 2019. Retrieved 9 April 2019.
  7. "NORTH CAROLINA COURAGE SELECTS FOUR IN CLUB'S FIRST NWSL DRAFT". North Carolina Courage. 12 January 2017. Archived from the original on 16 January 2017.
  8. "A+E Networks and NWSL end partnership". February 20, 2019. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  9. "NWSL will stream games on website in August and September after go90 shuts down". July 2, 2018. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  10. "NWSL, go90 announce exclusive streaming partnership". Black and Red United (SBNation). Vox Media. Retrieved April 14, 2017.
  11. "Lifetime To Air National Women's Soccer League Games As A+E Networks Kicks In For Equity Stake". Retrieved February 3, 2017.
  12. "A+E Networks, National Women's Soccer League Ink Major Deal". Variety. Retrieved February 3, 2017.
  13. "North Carolina Courage will be feature in five NWSL Game of the Week broadcasts". Vavel. April 1, 2017. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
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