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Hailie Mace is an X-factor on a fully established Courage team

Photo Copyright Lewis Gettier for The Equalizer

Let’s just get that out of the way, since you’ve probably seen it written quite a bit already: The North Carolina Courage are the overwhelming favorite to win the 2020 National Women’s Soccer League Challenge Cup.

In the most uncertain of years, in a league with many teams unsure of their identity, the Courage return 10 of 11 starters (Merritt Mathias likely won’t be ready in time to play at all in Utah). There is no wrong choice for most important player between Debinha, Crystal Dunn, Lynn Williams, Sam Mewis, Denise O’Sullivan, Abby Erceg — the list goes on. This is a dynasty because all these pieces have blended spectacularly over the past five years.

So, let’s focus on the newcomer, the wild card: Hailie Mace.

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