The North Carolina Courage will play their inaugural home game at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina, on Saturday night vs. Portland Thorns FC.
Ahead of the home opener, we caught up with midfielder McCall Zerboni to get her thoughts on what she expects this weekend, last week’s win over the Spirit and what is was like to score the first goal in North Carolina Courage history.
Q: How does it feel to get on the scoresheet right away this season?
Zerboni: We worked really hard this preseason. Obviously, we have a lot of expectations, coming off of last season. So to kind of start the season on a good foot, on a good note, with a win, felt really good. It’s an honor to be able to do that for the club. Obviously, the transition has been difficult and taken some time and the club has been very kind to us and helpful with our transition, so it was nice to kind of give back to the club in a way.
Watch: Zerboni scores the first goal in Courage history:
Q: North Carolina seemed to be in control in the game but Stephanie Labbé kept coming up big. As an opponent, what are you thinking when someone is having a game like that in goal?
Zerboni: Yeah, Labbé was on fire. She came out this season looking really good. If she can play every game like that it’s going to be a problem.
I think we created a lot of chances on her — whether they were chances from far out, whether they were point blank, whether they were crosses — she kind of proved that she could handle all of that. We were trying every way that we could to get past her. The fact that we have that dynamic to kind of try different angles, to get close to the net and get those opportunities on goal is really encouraging for the squad.
Q: It seemed like Debinha fit in really well right away with your team. What did you think of her game and how she’s fitting in?
Zerboni: It’s been so cool. We have about 85% of the same team as last year and to add those positive pieces, like Debinha — She adds skill and some width on the ball. She’s a true 10. [She] really adds some dimension to us and is able to play those balls into our dangerous forwards like [Jessica] McDonald and [Lynn] Williams. She’s been a really great addition.
Q: Saturday is going to be your inaugural game at home, but you’ve been in North Carolina through preseason. What’s it been like so far in terms of the fans and the atmosphere?
Zerboni: Straight away since arriving, there’s been a really great reception of us moving here. The North Carolina area has been starving for a team for a long time and they finally have one, so it’s nice to kind of be able to provide that for the fans. They’re sophisticated fans. They’ve been around the game for awhile. Right away, they gave us support and the community has been really good. I’m excited to see what kind of energy they bring. Obviously, they are intelligent and passionate fans, but just how they fill the park and what kind of energy they’ll bring to be behind us. It’ll be really exciting, I think.
Q: What do you think of facing Portland this week after their strong opening game against Orlando?
Zerboni: Portland has similar players as last year. They’re a strong squad. Everyone keeps trying to say, “Oh, it’s a rematch from last year.” But it’s really not. This is a new season with new pieces on both teams. It’s different. This is kind of our first head-to-head with Portland. We’ll see how we go against other. … The first time that you play each team in the league is really getting your feet wet and seeing where those pieces fit when playing against each other. It should be quite the showdown.
Get an early look inside North Carolina’s new home and hear from members of the Courage, courtesy of @TheNCCourage on Twitter.
Just got off the bus from our road trip and couldn't help but look at this view and get excited to do it again next week in our home stadium pic.twitter.com/CCnFUqTUTp
— NC Courage (@TheNCCourage) April 16, 2017
— NC Courage (@TheNCCourage) April 21, 2017