In their first game in 343 days, the Orlando Pride came up against arguably the best team in NWSL and held their own, playing to a 0-0 scoreless draw on Saturday against the North Carolina Courage.
Orlando played with an intensity in the first 45 minutes that caught the Courage a bit off guard.
“I can’t be prouder of the team’s effort,” said Orlando coach Marc Skinner after Saturday’s game. “I think it’s a classic epic mental mental performance. North Carolina are obviously a changed team, you take nothing away from that, but the ability to take your physicality and play it on the pitch, and then make sure that you control the spaces that they’re so dangerous in. I thought we did a wonderful job today. I genuinely couldn’t be prouder of all of the players for their effort. One of the things I’ve accused our players of in previous and is being weak mentally and giving in games and I think that to every individual today they were exceptional. I really, really suggest it was an epic mental performance from the team.”
The Pride managed to hold advantage of possession at final whistle, as throughout the match the team continued to break North Carolina’s press while playing out from the back. Through that, Orlando managed to create a number of chances throughout the match, coming close to scoring at different junctures of the 90 minutes.
Rookie Carrie Lawrence had the best chance of the match for the Pride as in the 71st minute, she smashed a shot off the crossbar, from a Marta cross.
“Honestly, I just wanted to get good contact on the ball, which I did, but I should’ve just placed it,” Lawrence said on her chance. “I put more power into like that I needed to. It could have just hit my leg and deflected in, but I saw it coming, I know it was a good opportunity, obviously, to score, but pretty unlucky off that bar but that will happen again.”
Lawrence also came up big on the other end of the field just 10 minutes later, saving a ball off the line that managed to get past goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris.
With Lawrence, six other players for the Pride secured their debut on the day: Courtney Petersen, Jordyn Listro, Denisha Blackwood, Kate Howarth and Chelsee Washington.
Saturday’s shutout was Orlando’s first clean sheet since July 20, 2019, during a 1-0 win on the road against Sky Blue FC.
Up next for Orlando
The Pride take on the Houston Dash on the road on Saturday, Sep. 26 at 8:30 p.m. ET at BBVA Compass Stadium.
How the Pride lined up
Orlando Pride XI: Ashlyn Harris (c); Courtney Petersen, Ali Krieger, Toni Pressley, Carrie Lawrence; Marisa Viggiano, Jordyn Listro (Chelsee Washington, 87′); Marta, Kristen Edmonds (Kate Howarth 80′); Sydney Leroux, Abby Elinsky (Denisha Blackwood, 64′)
Orlando Pride Bench: Brittany Wilson, Ally Haran, Konya Plummer, Savannah Uveges.
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