In Becky Burleigh‘s debut as interim head coach, the Orlando Pride managed to grind out a 1-1 draw against the North Carolina Courage on Saturday at WakeMed Soccer Park.
“I think that it’s really impressive that this group played a system that they hadn’t played basically on two days of training,” Burleigh said after the match,”The way they just put a lot of effort into what we did. We talked about next play speed all week, in terms of being resilient and recovering from mistakes and I thought they executed that very well.”
Orlando’s first best chance came in the 40th minute when Sydney Leroux couldn’t connect on a cross, finding Taylor Kornieck who hit the uncleared ball, but the shot went straight to the goalkeeper.
After a scoreless first half, the Pride opened the scoring minutes into the second half when a deep run from Ali Krieger found Leroux making a run into the area, before the striker turned and struck the ball past Casey Murphy to give Orlando a 1-0 lead in the 50th minute.
The goal was Leroux’s sixth goal of the season for Orlando, tying her for top scorer in NWSL.
But North Carolina equalized almost immediately after, when Meredith Speck managed to dish the ball to Brittany Ratcliffe, who managed to slot the ball past Harris to tie the game 1-1 for the Courage in the 52nd minute.
The Courage almost made it 2-1 in the 68th minute, when a shot from outside the box from Carson Pickett forced Ashlyn Harris to make a diving save.
In the 80th minute, North Carolina again came close to scoring the go-ahead goal when Havana Solaun’s shot hit off the post.
In the first minute of second-half stoppage time, Orlando nearly found the game-winning goal when Erika Tymrak, who came on as a substitute, slipped the ball to Leroux, but her shot from close was stopped by Murphy, while the rebound by Marisa Viggiano was pulled wide.
Quote of the Match
Both Ali Krieger and Sydney Leroux spoke about how hard the last two weeks have been during the transition period for the Pride, but Leroux put it more succinctly when talking about what she considered a “breath of fresh air”:
“I guess the feeling of someone wanting to be here for us, I think everyone feels that and that’s what Becky and Alan do for us, so it was really exciting for me to play under them tonight.”
The Pride continues its road stretch, traveling to take on the Chicago Red Stars on Sunday, Aug. 8 at SeatGeek Stadium.
50′ – Sydney Leroux, assisted by Ali Krieger (ORL)
52′ – Brittany Ratcliffe, assisted by Meredith Speck (NC)
How the Pride lined up
Orlando Pride XI: Ashlyn Harris (c); Kylie Strom, Amy Turner, Phoebe McClernon, Ali Krieger; Gunny Jónsdóttir, Courtney Petersen, Marisa Viggiano; Taylor Kornieck (Meggie Dougherty Howard, 71′), Sydney Leroux, Jodie Taylor (Erika Tymrak, 66′).
Substitutes: Brittany Wilson, Konya Plummer, Chelsee Washington, Toni Pressley, Ally Haran, Abi Kim, Crystal Thomas.
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