The Orlando Pride (3-2-3)were defeated by the undefeated Carolina Courage (7-0-2) 4-3 in front of yet another low attended showing at Orlando City this Wednesday night.
The Pride came into this week’s match against the Carolina Courage on a high note. The ladies had scored a 1-0 win over Portland in their previous match and were on a 5 game unbeaten streak. Carolina, the leagues only unbeaten team, came in with something to prove against the Pride, who defeated them twice last year.
This was Carolinas first match against Orlando in the stadium, but they had been here before. They played the NWSL Championship match here and were defeated by that same Portland team last year 1-0.
The Courage came out of the gate smoking, aggressively attacking the Orlando box, and taking advantage of holes in the Pride’s defense. Carolina stars Crystal Dunn and Jessica McDonald proved to be threats throughout the opening minutes, with Dunn hitting the back of the net in the 7th minute on a GOAL that was called back on offsides.
Carolina had 17 shots in the first half alone (26 for the match), with 13 inside of the box. Ashlyn harris was kept busy and managed to block 9 shots of Carolina’s total 26 shots for the match. compared tp Orlando’s 0 shots in the first half and 3 total for the match, you can see the problems that the Pride were having. Plus star striker Sydney Leroux was unable to play due to a stomach bug. The Prided could take solace in the fact that they managed to hold the Courage to 1-0 score in the first half.
“At times we saw the worst of Orlando Pride and then at times the best of Orlando Pride today,” Pride Head Coach Tom Sermanni said. “We were lucky to be down 1-0 at halftime but, again, I think in the second half, our players showed a great deal of character. We came right back into the game. Kept coming back into the game. But then it was like we came back into the game and then took our foot off the pedal instead of getting on with it. A lot of credit for us coming in, scoring three goals and getting back in the game again but a lot of things tonight that I felt that we did poorly that you don’t expect from players of the caliber that we have.”
The Pride did manage to make a strong showing in the beginning of the second half. They returned to the pitch with energy and aggression and kept the Courage honest and spending more time on defense. Coach Sermanni brought in the fresh legs of Rachel Hill, Dani Weatherholt, and Poliana in the second half and it paid off. Rachel Hill scored a goal in the 64th minute off of a slick-curving Marta pass from across the box.
The Courage responded with back-to-back goals in the 57th and 62nd minute, with the latter coming off an unfortunate shot off the post that deflected off of goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris and in.
The Pride clawed their way back to make it 3-3, with Kennedy netting her first goal of the season, a header off of Christine Nairn’s corner kick. Then in the 83rd minute, second-half substitute Hill drew the game level, slamming home a cross from Marta just eight minutes into her appearance.
McDonald found her second goal of the game in the 90th minute, the deciding score.