Most of the 2018 NWSL Championship squad will be returning to the 2019 North Carolina Courage roster. Yesterday, the club announced the re-signing of five more players from the 2019 NWSL Shield-winning and Championship winning team.
The NC Courage web site has come alive these past few days, with announcements and plans for the 2019 season. No bigger announcement has come through than Monday’s that brings back an additional five players from the 2018 roster. Jessica McDonald, Kristen Hamilton, Jaelene Hinkle, Elizabeth Eddy, and Debinha will all return to the NC Courage for the 2019 season.
The re-signing of forward Jess McDonald is a big piece, with her getting recent US Women’s National Team call ups and caps. In 2018, McDonald had a total of 10 goals, including two in the NWSL Championship where she went on to earn MVP honors.
In 2017 and 2018 with the Courage, McDonald had 46 appearances for just under 3,000 minutes.
“Jess is a true warrior and has provided the club with some tremendous moments the last few years,” said NC Courage head coach Paul Riley in the press release.
“She knows how to prepare herself and has matured into a much better footballer over recent seasons. Now getting the chance with the USWNT is terrific for her and she thoroughly deserves the opportunity. Size, power, intelligence, and a ton of other great tools have made her one of the premier forwards in the NWSL.”
Forward Kristen Hamilton, re-signing for her third year with the Courage has a total of 43 appearances with the team and started both games in the Women’s International Champions Cup
In the press release, Coach Riley said Hamilton has a big year ahead of her.
“She understands every aspect of our system and is another player who has developed substantially. Her skill, speed and fabulous ability to run behind back lines makes her a handful for opposing defenses,” he said.
“[It’s] great to get such a talented player under contract and my gut is she will be electric this year. Players must love the process of doing their best and she embraces the journey of getting better.”
Premier defender, Jaelene Hinkle also returns in 2019, boasting 22 starts in the previous two seasons, totaling nearing 4,000 minutes.
Riley said Hinkle is the best left back in the United States and continues to develop aspects of her game.
“She has speed, skill, and is a major attacking threat for our team,” Riley said.
“She has worked hard to improve her defensive acumen and we believe she has the potential to be the best, most equipped left back in the world. Excited to see her progress.”
Midfielder Elizabeth Eddy has been with the Courage since before they became the Courage, winning the NWSL Championship with the squad in 2016 as the Western New York Flash. Battling
In the press release, Riley said Eddy possesses a great individual talent and can be a major impact for the tram in 2019.
“She is a versatile player who understands the game tactically,” Riley said.
“Liz will be massive for the squad during a World Cup year.”
The sole Brazil native, Debinha returns to the squad as well, playing 48 games for nearly 3,400 minutes for the Courage.
In the press release, Coach Riley said Debinha has evolved her game and adjusted to the NWSL physicality.
“She is worth the price of admission and we are very excited to have her back,” Riley said.
“Her growth over the last two years has been immeasurable and she is cunning, crafty, intelligent, skillful and has dramatically improved her work off the ball. She is a two-way player now and both ourselves and Brazil are reaping the benefits.”
Others Previously Announced Returning
The NC Courage article also reiterated that other players from 2019 were also returning. Those returning players include goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland, defenders Abby Dahlkemper, Abby Erceg, and Kaleigh Kurtz on defense. Midfielders Crystal Dunn, Denise O’Sullivan, Samantha Mewis, Heather O’Reilly, Cari Roccaro, Meredith Speck, and McCall Zerboni are all returning. Lynn Williams joins McDonald, returning at forward.
The Courage also added midfielder Julia Spetsmark and goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé earlier this year. Other possibilities to be added to the roster include the four acquired in the 2019 NWSL College draft, and Wake Forest University Defender, Ally Haran. Other players who previously trained with the team including Ryan Williams, Morgan Reid, Carlin Hudson, and Frannie Crouse could end being a part of the squad, or at least training with the team.
From last year’s official roster on the NC Courage web site, the only ones that have not been mentioned in 2019 so far are defenders Merritt Mathias, Julie King, and Yuri Kawamura. King and Kawamura were both injured in 2018. Mathias’ omission in 2018 might hint to the fact she is still negotiating with the Courage or is possibly being traded to another NWSL team in 2019.
Goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo left the team to play in Sweden, while Darian Jenkins was traded to Reign FC.