In the off-season, the NWSL experienced a ton of changes in rosters between drafts, trades, and players going overseas. The North Carolina Courage were not immune to changes to their roster for any of those reasons. One of the big changes came with a changing of goalkeepers, acquiring OL Reign goalkeeper Casey Murphy and allocation money for Crystal Dunn who subsequently was traded to Portland.
The NC Courage started back practices on Monday, February 1 in chilly temperatures. In a press conference Tuesday, Murphy reflected on her first few days with the team.
“So far, [I’m] loving the environment,” Murphy said.
“It’s intense. The players have habits of a winner. I walk in. I see everyone doing prehab, and everyone’s stretching after practice, and just camaraderie and good team culture. [I’m] getting those vibes, which is really nice.”
Becoming Part of the North Carolina Courage
Murphy acknowledged that the Cary, NC based squad is seen as one of the top teams in the NWSL.
“I was excited to be a part of this club because I feel like we’re the team that has a target on our backs and a player like me, I love that pressure and I love that everyone’s going to bring their best against us,” Murphy said.
“So to be able to be a part of this club, I’m excited because they’re bringing their best. That’s only going to make each and every one of us here better.”
The goalkeeper said the improvements and the mentality of bringing their best happen on the practice fields on the Courage as well.
“It’s not that center back competing against that center back,” Murphy said.
“It’s that player competing against themselves. I like that type of mentality that Paul [Riley] is drilling into us. It’s like you’re there to get better each and every day — to make yourself better than you were the day before. It’s not necessarily you competing against another goalkeeper. It’s you competing against yourself to be the best you can be. I really like his mindset on the training environment and how it should be here.”
First Impressions of Paul Riley
Murphy’s also getting her first insights into head coach Paul Riley‘s intense practices and expectations.
“I love that he’s a hard coach,” Murphy said.
“I have a lot of standards I set for myself and I set those standards very high. I love a hard coach because a hard coach keeps you accountable to those standards you have and those goals and expectations you have to yourself.”
Just days in, Murphy recognizes that nothing but your best effort is going to be enough for the Courage head coach.
“Nothing is going to fly with him,” Murphy said.
“He’s going to make sure you give your best every single day, so I appreciate that. I want that.”
Call Up to the USWNT
Murphy experienced a bunch of new scenery as 2020 came to a close, being traded to the Courage in October, followed by getting called up to the U.S. Women’s National Team. The keeper was part of the 24-player roster for the U.S. Women’s National Team’s Identification Camp back in December and is returning to the 23-player USWNT roster for the 2021 SheBelieves Cup roster, along with Jane Campbell of the Houston Dash; 4), and Alyssa Naeher of the Chicago Red Stars.
Murphy said leaving the 2020 NWSL post-season, her whole off-season was in preparation for the possibility of getting a USWNT call.
“If there was a call-in, I would be ready,” Murphy said.
“I wanted to be super proactive in this year and in this offseason so that if the call up did come I’d feel prepared and ready to go. Did I necessarily know I was going to get that email? No. It was the best email ever though.”
As she transitions from a few practices with her new club into her country’s training, she says she feels ready.
“It’s a nice feeling to know I’ve been training and preparing myself to compete at that top level and not feel like I’m cramming right now for camp next week,” Murphy said.
“I’m continuing to do what I do and have solid foundations now that I think I’ve implemented good habits and routines now that are going to help me be successful at that level.”
Murphy received her first call-up in June of 2018 for friendlies against China PR.
During her first year in the NWSL in 2019, Murphy made 20 starts, 79 saves, and recorded six clean sheets. In the 2019 NWSL Semifinal against the Courage, Murphy made a season-high and NWSL career-high 11 saves.