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NWSL: Courage, World Cup stars to be honored at N.C. Governor’s Mansion

The North Carolina Courage and their World Cup stars will be honored at the North Carolina Governor’s Mansion later this week.

North Carolina Courage players gather in a huddle prior to playing against Reign FC on July 13, 2019 at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C. (Mitchell Northam / ProSoccerUSA)

The victory tour isn’t over for the winners of the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

Friday, the North Carolina Courage – the club Sam Mewis, Abby Dahlkemper, Crystal Dunn and Jessica McDonald play for – will visit the mansion of North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper. The visit is in part to honor the accomplishments of the four American Courage players who were part of the team that won the World Cup, but it is also to recognize the Courage for winning the 2018 NWSL shield, championship and International Champions Cup, according to a release from the club.

“Being able to play before the World Cup, on this team (the Courage) and get games under my belt definitely helped,” Dahlkemper told reporters Wednesday. “I just tried to stay consistent and help my team… It was an honor to be able to start those games (in the World Cup).”

The full NC Courage team will visit the Governor’s Mansion in Raleigh at 2:45 p.m. on Friday. Mewis and Steve Malik, who owns the team, are expected to make remarks.

In addition to the four Americans, three other Courage players – Canada’s Stephanie Labbe, New Zealand’s Abby Erceg and Brazil’s Debinha – also played in the World Cup. They will be recognized on the trip to the Governor’s Mansion as well.

On Thursday, the team will be honored by the Cary Town Council. The Courage play at WakeMed Soccer Park, which is located in Cary, just outside of Raleigh.

“It meant the world to me, not only to represent the best team in the world, because that’s obviously a dream come true, but also to represent my child, the human being that I take care of, that looks up to me day in and day out,” said McDonald, the only mother on the U.S. national team. “It’s an honor to represent the crest on my chest, but also just seeing the happiness on his face and being able to experience this, because this is big… Hopefully that moment, him holding that trophy, is something that’s just going to inspire him with whatever he wants to do in the future.”

Dunn, Dahlkemper, Mewis and McDonald returned to training this week with the Courage and are expected to be available for selection when Paul Riley’s side travels to Chicago to take on the Red Stars on Sunday. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN2, with the broadcast starting at 6 p.m.

With a record of 6-4-2 and a goal-differential of plus-14, the Courage are in first place in the NWSL table. Lynn Williams leads the team in scoring with five goals and four assists.

“It’s amazing for the NWSL to be in the spotlight – for all of these players to give us the spotlight,” Riley said. “It’s been massive. I think you see the difference in the ticket sales throughout the league. We have to continue it.”

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