For the 22-time national champion North Carolina, the field at WakeMed is about as close to home as possible. These players, regardless of where they’re from, know this field inside and out. With their home field in Chapel Hill under construction this year, the Tar Heels played five of their regular season home games in Cary and will hope to win a championship in this city for the fourth time in program history. The North Carolina roster includes 14 Carolinians, including three sets of local high school teammates and one Cary native.
— North Carolina FC (@NorthCarolinaFC) November 28, 2018
But the team isn’t all Carolina born and bred.
North Carolina also has the greatest number of states represented on its roster compared to any team in the College Cup. They also have two international players, both from England. Alessia Russo is from Kent and Lotte Wubben-Moy is from London. Wubben-Moy, by the way, is fluent in Dutch and has a father who cycles a competitive stage of the Tour de France each year. For the North Carolina players, even Russo and Wubben-Moy, playing in Cary is home, and WakeMed soccer park could provide the Tar Heels with all they need to complete their 2018 redemption story and earn a national title on the same field that they lost the ACC championship just several weeks ago.
Florida State, which has played its last several games in Tallahassee as hosts during the NCAA tournament, will now return to Cary and to a field where they found success in the ACC tournament against none other than the Tar Heels. The ACC, however, isn’t the only thing these two teams share. Florida State defender Malia Berkely came from the same city — Liberty Township, Ohio — as North Carolina goalkeeper Samantha Leshnak, and the two have faced off directly in previous ACC games. Despite playing nearly 500 miles from her hometown, Berkely won’t be too far removed from her family’s spirit, as she will be wearing her mom’s birthstone ring during the game.
The province of Liberty Township has not only produced college stars Berkely and Leshnak, but it also neighbors the hometown of USWNT athlete, Rose Lavelle. On Friday afternoon, the residents of Liberty Township will have a lot to cheer for with two of their hometown standouts competing for a bid to the national title game.
In addition to Berkely and her Ohio roots, Florida State’s roster also includes seven players from outside the United States, the most of any team in the College Cup, including two athletes from the UK, one from China, one from Canada, one from Finland, one from Costa Rica and one from Venezuela.
— FSU Soccer (@FSUSoccer) November 26, 2018
Georgetown, on the other hand, does not have a single international player, and with the exception of two California players and an Oregon player, none of their athletes hail from a state west of Michigan. Two athletes, however, share a hometown, Chevy Chase, Maryland, and they are the only two athletes who come from the Old Line State on the roster. Though not teammates in high school, these two Hoyas, Drew Kesterman and Paula Germino-Watnick, have taken a similar road through Maryland to play for a NCAA title in Cary as teammates. No other two players on the Georgetown roster come from the same hometown.
— Georgetown W Soccer (@HoyasWSoc) November 27, 2018
Two or more players represent each of the following states on the Georgetown roster including New York, California, New Jersey, Virginia and Massachusetts, while Ohio, Oregon, Georgia, Connecticut and Michigan each have one representative. Led by leading scorer Caitlin Farrell from Connecticut, the Hoyas will aim to make Cary their home for the next few days and hope to earn the chance to play a second game at WakeMed this weekend.
— Georgetown Univ. (@Georgetown) November 28, 2018
Stanford, the reigning champion, has played all of its tournament games at home so far this year, but as the Cardinal head to Cary, they bring with them 17 California natives, along with three Washingtonians, three Colorado players, an Australian native, and six other players from around the United States. Beattie Goad, the Australian, came to Stanford after graduating from Lauriston Girls’ School in Melbourne in 2015 and is the first member of her family to attend college in the United States. Athletic success, however, does run in the family, as her grandfather competed at the Commonwealth Games in the 1500m. She also hopes to hike to the Mount Everest base camp this winter.
Halfway around the world from Goad’s hometown is the city where Stanford freshman Bianca Caetano-Ferrara and sophomore Catarina Macario hail from: San Diego. This southern California city is also the hometown with the greatest representation in this year’s College Cup. Macario played at Torrey Pines High School with Georgetown junior Sarah Trissel, and now, they will both compete in separate semifinal games for a chance to play in the national championship.
Thank you, fans, for another amazing season at Cagan!
— Stanford Women’s Soccer (@StanfordWSoccer) November 28, 2018
The 2018 College Cup contenders this year represent 98 different cities around the world, but for these next five days, the athletes only care about one thing: winning in Cary, North Carolina.