CARY, N.C. (Jan. 23, 2023) – The North Carolina Courage have acquired defender Emily Fox, the first overall pick in the 2021 NWSL Draft out of the University of North Carolina, from Racing Louisville in a trade that sends defenders Abby Erceg and Carson Pickett to Louisville.
At 24 years old, Fox has already eclipsed 20 caps with the U.S. Women’s National Team and was most recently on the roster for the team’s January trip to New Zealand. She started three matches in the 2022 CONCACAF Women’s Championship, including the final, which the U.S. won against Canada.
The defender had a successful sophomore NWSL season in 2022, recording a goal and assist while winning nearly 60% of both tackles and duels. Her 82% pass success rate from 2022 fits well with a Courage club that led the league in both total passes and pass percentage a season ago. She was an NWSL Rookie of the Year finalist in 2021 after leading the entire league in interceptions (45) and logging more minutes than any other rookie.
“I’m really excited to have the opportunity to head back to North Carolina. Coming from UNC, the Courage were always a team I rooted for and admired. I can’t wait to get to work and represent this club,” Fox said.
“We are thrilled to add Emily to our club. She is one of the bright young players in the game who will come in and have an immediate impact. She plays multiple positions, maintains wonderful technical quality, and has an attacking mind frame. I know she is excited to be here and can’t wait for everyone to welcome her. We look forward to having Emily back in North Carolina where she played her collegiate career not too long ago,” said head coach Sean Nahas.
Fox had a prolific collegiate career with the University of North Carolina, leading her team to College Cup appearances in 2018 and 2019. As a four-year starter for the Tar Heels, Fox paced UNC with 11 assists in 2019, earned three-straight First Team All-ACC honors and was named a Hermann Trophy semifinalist, all while overcoming two ACL tears in three years.
Erceg came to the Courage when the Western New York Flash were relocated to Cary and served as team captain each of the first six seasons. She played in 115 matches across all competitions for the Courage. A member of both NWSL Championship teams and winning three NWSL Shields, Erceg’s leadership was invaluable to the early success of the Courage.
“Abby has been a cornerstone of our club since the arrival in North Carolina. She was an integral part of our club’s championships over the years and someone who will go down as one of the best in league history. We cannot thank her enough for everything she gave to our club, our fans, and community over the years. She set the standard daily to make her who she is: one of the greats,” said Nahas.
Pickett appeared in 56 contests across two seasons with the Courage. She led the NWSL with six assists in 2022 and had 14 between regular season and Challenge Cup play with the Courage after just two across all competitions in her four prior professional seasons. Pickett played for the Seattle Reign in 2016 and 2017 and spent the next three years with Orlando before joining the Courage in 2021.
“We cannot thank Carson enough for her time here with us. Upon joining us she had an immediate and sustained impact on both sides of the ball and earned the recognition she deserved both within the league and national team due to her daily commitment to her craft. We wish her the best of luck and know she will continue to do great things moving forward in her career both on and off the field because she is a great player and person,” Nahas said.
The Courage roster is now at 24 players and six defenders: Sydney Collins, Fox, Estelle Johnson, Kaleigh Kurtz, Kiki Pickett, and Ryan Williams.