Head coach Paul Riley of the North Carolina Courage announced on Thursday night that midfielder Makenzy Doniak tore her ACL and will be out for the season. The injury occurred on the first day of preseason work, but the team held on to the information until they were sure of the injury's extent. Doniak was drafted by the Western New York Flash in the 2016 NWSL College Draft in the second round after playing four years at the University of Virginia. She played 22 games and scored four goals in her rookie season with the Flash.
The Flash were sold and relocated to North Carolina before the 2017 National Women's Soccer League season and were rebranded the North Carolina Courage. Doniak played in 23 games for the Courage in 2017, but her playing time decreased as the season went on. When Taylor Smith was injured in the 2017 NWSL Championship Game, Doniak came off the bench and played well in the 1-0 loss to the Portland Thorns.
In an effort to polish her play and improve her fitness, Doniak traveled to Australia to play for Adelaide United in the Westfield W-League during the NWSL off-season. She primarily played forward for the club and scored a team-leading seven goals in 12 appearances. Her seven goals were tied for fourth-best in the 2017/18 W-League season among all players. Her most impressive performance came in Round Three of W-League play when she scored a hat-trick to secure a 3-1 win over Sam Kerr's Perth Glory. That win was the highest point of the Adelaide season. The team finished the season in last place with a record of 3W - 1D - 8L.
Doniak typically played on the right side of the Courage midfield with an emphasis on pushing the ball to the end line and crossing it into the box. In her absence, the Courage will likely turn to Kristen Hamilton to fill that role. Hamilton officially played forward when she was in the lineup last season, but her role was much closer to a wing midfielder in practice. If she transitions into that role, Hamilton will need to resist her natural tendency to drive the ball to the top of the box. Alternately, the Courage could change up their formation to play to the strengths of the team without trying to find a direct replacement for Doniak.
At this time there is no reason to believe that Doniak will not be back with the team for the 2019 season.