Skip to main content


North Carolina repeats as UKG NWSL Challenge Cup champions


The 2023 UKG NWSL Challenge Cup came to a close Saturday as the North Carolina Courage became the only club to repeat as Challenge Cup champions, defeating Racing Louisville FC, 2-0, at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina, to secure the club’s second-straight tournament crown.

Becoming the youngest player to either start or score in a Challenge Cup final, 19-year-old Japanese international and Courage midfielder Manaka Matsukubo was named the UKG NWSL Challenge Cup Final MVP after doubling the lead for her club with a spectacular goal in the second half of the game.

Matsukubo will receive an additional cash prize from the historic $1.1 million bonus pool from UKG for her performance during the match.

In an effort to radically increase equity and financial impact for all NWSL athletes competing for a cut of the highly anticipated $1.1 million 2023 UKG NWSL Challenge Cup prize pool, $363,000 was allocated toward all players who competed in Challenge Cup games, while approximately $300,000 and $200,000 was awarded to North Carolina and Racing Louisville players, respectively, for competing in the final, and $100,000 was split between Kansas City and OL Reign semifinalists. The remainder of the pool was allocated towards additional appearance bonuses as well as tournament awards.

“The weather didn’t stand a chance at stopping the world-class athletes on Racing Louisville and the North Carolina Courage from completing this historic 2023 Challenge Cup,” said Pat Wadors, Chief People Officer at UKG. “UKG is beyond proud to provide this record purse as a symbol for all of us to continue to fight together for equity of opportunity in the world of sport and beyond. If we tug on enough minds and enough hearts with our actions, we can finally close the wage gap for good.”

In addition to a record purse, this year’s Challenge Cup also saw several records and milestones achieved on the pitch, including the first-ever hat trick in tournament play, courtesy of Cup MVP Kristen Hamilton, and new marks for the shortest timespan to score four, five and six goals in any NWSL competition.

The 2023 NWSL campaign continues this Friday as the league returns to regular season action.