It’s felt like a long winter, and after a long hibernation here at Courage Country, we’re back. We wanted to kick off the 2023 articles with a summary and a quick cheat sheet for the off-season so far. This will help us all identify the new names, faces, and numbers representing the North Carolina Courage in 2023. We’ll continue to update this article as new roster moves are made.
There have been a ton of off-season moves. Those that re-signed to the club typically either got a three-year deal, or a single year.
Below are the off-season roster moves made for the North Carolina Courage since the conclusion of the 2022 regular season and the beginning of the 2023 NWSL season, listed in most recent to oldest.
On February 7, 2023, the NC Courage announced that the team acquired Japanese midfielder Narumi Miura in a transfer from Tokyo Verdy Beleza of the Yogibo WE League. Miura, who has several appearances for the Japanese National Team, was acquired for an agreed-upon transfer fee and will be under contract with the Courage through the 2024 season.
“We are very excited to add someone of Narumi’s quality and experience to our club,” head coach Sean Nahas said.
“She is someone with an extremely high soccer IQ and technical quality that fits into how we want to play. We look forward to the day she arrives here in North Carolina.”
On January 24, 2023, the NC Courage re-signed long-time goalkeeper (with a brief stint away at Kansas City) to a three-year deal.
“When we brought Katelyn back it was not only because we think so highly of her as a player, but also as a person. She was an integral part of us winning the challenge cup in 2022 and is someone who we knew we wanted back. We look forward to seeing Katelyn’s continued growth under Nathan and someone who day in and day out will challenge our players to be the best version of themselves,” said head coach Sean Nahas.
Rowland will likely continue to be the backup to USWNT goalkeeper, Casey Murphy, who also re-signed in the off-season.
Emily Fox Trade for Abby Erceg and Carson Pickett
On January 23, 2023, the Courage agreed to acquire Emily Fox from Racing Louisville in exchange for defenders, Abby Erceg and Carson Pickett. In a statement on social media, Erceg posted a statement
“Courage country my heart breaks a little today and believe me when I say I am as shocked and disappointed as you are,” Erceg said.
“The intention to see out my career with a club in which I have so many fantastic memories comes to an end, as that intention is unfortunately not a shared one. You have made Raleigh my home away from home for the past 6 years and I will never forget the times that we had on and off the pitch. Some of the best moments of my career have been shared with you all.”
“I gave this club everything I had through the good times and the bad so I leave with my head held high and I hope I led your team in a way that you were proud of. Thank you for everything, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.”
“Now, I look forward to investing my efforts into a club with whom I already have a shared vision. Louisville, I am beyond excited to be representing your club for the upcoming season. I humbly thank the organisation for allowing me to join in on their journey and I am very much looking forward to getting started and seeing what 2023 brings for us!”
The 2022 @NWSL assists leader and Best XI selection will be in lavender and mint this season. 🤩
Happy to have you, @Cars_Pickett16! pic.twitter.com/3ZiBQZS8GQ
— Racing Louisville FC (@RacingLouFC) January 23, 2023
As of the publication of this article, the North Carolina Football Club / NC Courage has not published a press release/statement about the trade but posted to Twitter wishing both Erceg and Pickett luck, thanking them for their time at the club.
Pickett kept things positive, saying in separate Tweets, “Cannot wait💜🏽,” and “Here we go 💜💜💜.”
On January 23, 2023, the Courage re-signed forward Brittany Ratcliffe for the 2023 season. 2023 season. The deal includes a mutual option for the 2024 season. Ratcliffe joined Courage in 2021 and has been a member of the NWSL since the 2016 season.
“Britt is the ultimate pro,” Courage head coach, Sean Nahas said.
“Day in and day out she is someone who puts in the work for both herself and the team. Her tireless work rate and commitment is what we need on our roster. In 2022 she gave us quality minutes when called upon and we are very happy to have a quality player and person back with us for the 2023 season,” he said.
Tyler Lussi Trade for Merritt Mathias
On January 20, 2023, the Courage traded with Angel City FC, acquiring forward Tyler Lussi in exchange for NWSL veteran defender Merritt Mathias.
Lussi, 27 was drafted in 2017 by the Portland Thorns in the third round. In her 42 games with Portland, Lussi scored five goals and had four assists. She was then traded to Angel City FC prior to their 2022 inaugural season.
Nahas said they were happy to add Lussi to this season’s roster.
“She has great experience in the league and someone we feel will step in and help us moving forward,” Nahas said.
“She has a great energy to how she plays, and we feel it suits us and our style. We cannot wait for her to join us in here in North Carolina,” he said.
Mathias, an outside back the last five seasons with the Courage celebrated two NWSL Championships with the Courage in 2018 and 2019, played 83 regular season games.
“We cannot thank Merritt enough for all she did here with our club,” Nahas said.
“She had an immediate impact upon arriving in 2018 where she helped us achieve great success over the years and will always hold a special place here in NC. As she moves on to ACFC we wish her the best of luck and know she will go and have an impact for them just as much as she did here for us,” he said.
Mille Gejl Jensen
Also on January 20, 2023, Danish National Team player, Mille Gejl Jensen agreed to a two-year contract through the NWSL 2024 season. The contact is contingent on the in-process receipt of her P-1 Visa and International Transfer Certificate (ITC).
Jensen said she is beyond excited to be joining the North Carolina Courage.
“I have heard really great things about the Club, the staff, the supporters, and the talented group of players in the team,” Jensen said.
“It sounds like a strong, professional environment with the best opportunities to develop and I’m really looking forward to meeting up with the team and getting to play in front of all the fantastic supporters,” Gejl said.
On January 19, 2023, the Courage re-signed outside back, Ryan Williams to a new three-year deal, keeping her with the club where she’s been so far for her whole professional career.
“Re-signing Ryan was important to us after the season she had in 2022,” Nahas said.
“Her commitment to both her personal development and this team have been tremendous to see and we are thrilled to have her back. She had some wonderful performances for us and look forward to seeing her continued growth in the upcoming season. She’s also a wonderful person to again have in our locker room,” Nahas said.
2023 NWSL College Draft
In the 20223 NWSL College Draft on January 12, 2023, the NC Courage selected a total of four players — all in the first round of the draft. The four selections included Notre Dame forward Olivia Wingate, California defensive midfielder Sydney Collins, Florida State midfielder, Clara Robbins, and University of Virgina forward Haley Hopkins.
Diana Ordoñez Trade
Just prior to the 2023 NWSL College Draft, the NC Courage traded Diana Ordoñez and the No. 30 overall draft pick to the Houston Dash. In exchange, the Courage received the eighth overall pick, Houston’s 2024 natural first-round pick, a 2023 international spot and $100,000 in allocation money. It was later revealed Ordoñez requested the trade to be closer to her family.
On January 5, 2023, the Courage re-signed Brianna Pinto to a guaranteed three-year deal keeping her with the Courage through 2025. ollegiate standout at the University of North Carolina, was traded to the Courage from Gotham FC prior to the 2022 season.
Pinto appeared in 22 matches and made 17 starts for the Courage in 2022, scoring a goal and notching a pair of assists in just under 1,500 minutes of action.
On January 3, 2023, the North Carolina Courage re-signed goalkeeper Casey Murphy on three-year, guaranteed contract. The keeper has been the starting goalkeeper with the Courage since she came to North Carolina in 2021.
“Casey has proven over the years why she is one of the best goalkeepers in the world and we are excited to have her sign with here for a longer term,” Nahas said.
“She’s dedicated to her craft, and this team, and that shows in her continued growth under Nathan (Thackeray). We look forward to having her in a Courage kit for years to come,” Nahas said.
On Dec. 22, 2022, Debhina informed the NC Courage she would not be returning for a seventh season with the club.
Debhina, one of, if not the best Brazillian in the NWSL was the biggest free agent after the 2022 season. Early rumors had her going to England to play, but ultimately she ended up signing for Kansas City, joining other former Courage players including Kristen Hamiltion, Hallie Mace, and Sam Mewis, to name a few.
On December 1, 2022, the North Carolina Courage signed NWSL free agent defender Estelle Johnson to a two-year, guaranteed contract through the 2024 season. Johnson had played with NWSL squad NJ/NY Gotham FC since 2019.
On November 28, the Courage announced the re-signing of defender Kaleigh Kurtz to guaranteed deal with club through 2025. The 2022 NWSLIron Woman had a club option for 2023, which was exercised, but the two sides have agreed to a long-term deal.
Chief Soccer Officer Curt Johnson said they were thrilled to sign Kurtz to a long-term contract.
“As a result of her incredible work ethic and desire for daily improvement, she has continued to grow every year as a pro,” he said.
“She’s established herself as one of the best defenders in the NWSL. Kaleigh is a fan-favorite who is known for her incredible commitment to the Courage on and off the field,” Johnson said.
Other Player Movement
After the conclusion of the 2022 season, the NC Courage also exercised options on players including Marissa Bova, Kaleigh Kurtz, Tess Boade, Emily Gray, Fuka Nagano, Frankie Tagliaferri, forward Diana Ordòñez. Since that time, Nagano and Ordòñez have since left the club.
The Courage also chose not to exercise an option on defender Jaelene Daniels. They additionally agreed mutual contract termination with forward Rylee Baisden and defender Katie Bowen.
NC Courage players arrived for pre-season on Monday, January 30, 2023. Stay tuned for additional updates. This article will continue to be updated until the 2023 NC Courage Roster is locked in.