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Offseason additions making their mark early for North Carolina Courage

North Carolina Courage midfielder Ashley Sanchez dribbles with a Houston Dash player pursuing her a few yards behind.
Photo Copyright Rob Kinnan for USA TODAY Sports

CARY, N.C. — After significant roster turnover in the last few National Women’s Soccer League seasons, the North Carolina Courage took a different approach in free agency targeting key veterans to round out the squad.

The 2024 campaign may be young, but the change appears to be paying off already with those new players on the Courage contributing in big ways.

Two players — midfielder Ashley Sanchez and defender Feli Rauch — have started both Courage games, a 5-1 home win on March 16 against the Houston Dash and a 2-1 road loss last weekend at the Utah Royals. Two more 2024 additions, free agent signings Bianca St-Georges and Dani Weatherholt, have come off the bench in each game. All four have also scored at least one goal, with St-Georges tallying two in her debut for the Courage.

Part of the urgency behind their more aggressive approach is the late-season loss of NWSL MVP Kerolin, who sustained a torn ACL last October. She led the Courage with 10 goals despite missing time to represent Brazil in the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Kerolin was also the only player to score double-digit goals for North Carolina, which averaged just 1.32 per game.

“We were real strategic in how we went about our free agency process, and bringing in Bianca and bringing in Dani, two veterans that know the league, that can add to certain qualities that maybe we were lacking last year in terms of the depth piece,” Courage head coach Sean Nahas told reporters during Thursday’s press conference ahead of Saturday’s clash against Gotham FC at WakeMed Soccer Park.

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