Seven of the 23 players on the top-ranked U.S. squad at the Women’s 2019 FIFA World Cup have a connection to the Triangle.
Some play for the NC Courage and the rest once played for North Carolina. Of the seven, five are making their World Cup debut, and several had a hand in the U.S.’s 13-0 drubbing of Thailand on Tuesday — the largest margin of victory in the tournament’s history.
Outside of the USWNT, several NC Courage and former Triangle-college student-athletes are playing for their home countries.
Here’s a closer look at each player competing in this year’s World Cup.
Now that she’s on the USWNT for a World Cup, Crystal Dunn has (almost) done it all.
A New York native, Dunn, 26, played for Anson Dorrance at UNC from 2010-13. She was a first-team All-ACC selection in each of her four years there and won a national championship in 2012.
Dunn was also named the 2012 Hermann Trophy winner — college soccer’s most prestigious accolade — ACC Athlete of the Year and ACC Defender of the Year in her tenure.
Out of college, the 5-1, 119-pound defender was the first overall pick in the 2014 NWSL draft. She played for the Washington Spirit and England’s Chelsea before landing with the North Carolina Courage in 2018. She still plays for the team today.
Tuesday marked Dunn’s World Cup debut.
Samantha Mewis, a 5-11 midfielder from Weymouth, Mass., played for UCLA from 2011-14 and has been on the NC Courage since 2017.
In her two full seasons on the Courage (2017-18), Mewis notched 10 goals and five assists. She was called up to the U.S. Women’s National Team for the Tournament of Nations in July 2018. Prior to that, she was drafted fourth overall by the WNY Flash and was a Rookie of the Year finalist in 2015.
The 26-year-old scored two goals in her World Cup debut earlier this week.
Jessica McDonald, originally from Phoenix, Ariz., played as a Tar Heel for a pair of seasons (2008-09) after transferring from Phoenix College.
In 2010, she made five appearances for the Chicago Red Stars of the NWSL and bounced around the league seven times in as many years before landing with the NC Courage in 2017.
This is the 5-10, 139-pound forward’s first time on this stage.
UNC alum Tobin Heath, 31, is among the most experienced players on this year’s USWNT.
This go-around marks her third World Cup, and she’s one of five players to own double-figure World Cup caps, a term that refers to how many international matches a player has played in. Also of note, Heath scored a goal in the final match of the 2015 World Cup, when the USWNT won it all.
Prior to that, the forward won three national championships during her career at UNC (2006-09).
Hailing from Satellite Beach, Fla., Ashlyn Harris is one of three goalkeepers on the team’s final roster and is playing in her second World Cup.
Harris (5-9, 146 pounds) played for the Tar Heels from 2006-09, where she and teammate Tobin Heath won three national titles together.
Winning on the international stage isn’t new for Harris. The goalkeeper — then just 16 years old — played every minute of the 2002 FIFA U-19 Women’s World Cup, when that team won the tournament.
Allie Long, a Tar Heel from 2005-08, is also making her first World Cup appearance in 2019.
The 5-8, 130-pound midfielder from East Northport, N.Y., currently plays for Seattle Reign FC. In 2018, she scored three goals and had one assist in 20 matches played for the club.
Abby Dahlkemper, a 5-7 defender from Lancaster, Penn., is also playing in her first World Cup in 2019.
Dahlkemper helps lead the NC Courage’s back line. In her last full season on the team, she played 1880 minutes in 21 games and was named to the 2018 NWSL Best XI — one of the league’s highest honors.
Lucy Bronze, a 5-7, 143-pound defender from Northumberland, England, played for the Tar Heels in 2009, and has been part of the English national team since 2007. She plays for Olympique Lyon in France.
This year marks Bronze’s second appearance at a World Cup.
Katie Bowen is competing in her second World Cup on New Zealand’s squad.
Bowen, who graduated from UNC in 2016, redshirted what would have been her senior year to compete for her country’s national team in 2015. She’s among the most recent Tar Heel graduates to win a women’s soccer national championship.
In 2015, Bowen (5-7, 123 pounds) played in all three of New Zealand’s games. She plays for Utah Royals FC in Salt Lake City.
Courage forward Debinha started and played the full 90 minutes for Brazil in its 3-0 win over Jamaica on Sunday.
Debinha (5-6, 143 pounds) is making her second World Cup appearance — and came into the tournament with 47 caps and 16 goals already on her international resume.
Stephanie Labbé, a goalkeeper for the NC Courage, started in goal and recorded a clean sheet in Canada’s 1-0 win over Cameroon on Monday.
Labbé (5-10, 139 pounds) joined the Courage in February.
She will likely start in goal against New Zealand on Saturday as well, competing against Courage teammate Abby Erceg.
Courage captain and center back Abby Erceg joins Bowen on the New Zealand national team.
Erceg started and played a full 90 minutes in her team’s loss to the Netherlands on Tuesday. The 5-10 defender came into the World Cup with 26 caps.
The USWNT’s head coach, Jill Ellis, also has a Triangle connection: In 1988, as a 22-year-old fresh out of her college playing days at William and Mary, Ellis was a part-time graduate assistant at N.C. State.
Originally from England, Ellis was named the U.S.’s head coach in May 2014 and led her squad to its third World Cup title in 2015.
Former Blue Devil Rebecca Quinn is also competing in the 2019 World Cup on the Canadian national team.
Quinn wrapped up her time at Duke in 2017, where she earned All-ACC first-team honors and was the program’s first ACC Midfielder of the Year. Since graduating, Quinn has competed for her nation’s full team — including when she helped lead Canada to a bronze medal in the 2016 World Cup in Rio.
Kayla McCoy, a forward whose final season at Duke was in 2018, is on the Jamaican national team in the 2019 World Cup. This year marks the first time a Caribbean nation qualified for the tournament.
The forward was an All-ACC first-team selection in her tenure at Duke.
A previous version of this story did not include Jill Ellis, Rebecca Quinn or Kayla McCoy.