The Orlando Pride took down the previously undefeated North Carolina Courage by a 3-1 scoreline at home in Orlando, Florida in the fifth week of NWSL play. It was the Pride’s first win of the season, making them the last team to tally a win this 2017 season.
First half: neither here nor there
The first half passed goalless for either side as they both struggled to find a rhythm, and technical difficulties meant fans watching online struggled to find the live stream.
Action-packed second half
From the word ‘go’ the second half was more intense than the first. North Carolina started out with two decent opportunities, though they couldn’t put either of them on frame. Then in the 48th minute, almost against the run of play, Orlando snuck in their first goal courtesy of Chioma Ubogagu. A Pride attacker slipped a ball across the six and Ubogagu was waiting at the far post to fire it past Sabrina D’Angelo. It was the forward’s first goal for her new club since being traded from the Houston Dash. There was barely time for either side to draw breath before the Pride struck again in the 49th minute, this time through Brazilian international Camila. Jamia Fields sprung Camila behind the backline with a simple ball and Camila finished tidily to give the Pride a 2-0 lead.
North Carolina are nothing if not tenacious, however, and the Courage clawed a goal back almost immediately. The following minute saw Debhina laser a shot past the outstretched Ashlyn Harris into the far post, cutting the Pride’s lead to 2-1. The good news for the Courage was short-lived, however, as Abby Erceg, who had been playing on a yellow card dealt in the first half, dragged down Ubogagu and rightly received a second yellow and was sent off. The red card meant that Erceg will miss the Courage’s next match. The Courage were reduced to ten players in the 56th minute, and although a wave of substitutions restored some of their pep, they visibly flagged in the Orlando heat.
Intensity kicks up in final minutes
The energy picked up in the waning minutes of the second half as North Carolina grew more frustrated and Orlando became more emboldened. Taylor Smith and Jazmyne Spencer got caught in a tangle, and the referee called a foul against the Courage. Moments later Ali Krieger received a yellow card for a dangerous challenge that sent McCall Zerboni flying. Orlando struck the decisive goal in the 81st minute through Spencer, who continued her super-sub role to perfection, giving the Pride a 3-1 lead. Fellow second half substitute Christina Burkenroad had a chance to make it four for Orlando in the game’s final moments, but her powerfully-struck shot was straight at D’Angelo. The 3-1 lead was good enough for the Pride to take home their well-deserved first win of the season.
The Orlando Pride go on the road to Seattle for their next match. They play the Seattle Reign on Sunday, May 21 at 9:30 pm E.T. The North Carolina Courage will face the Chicago Red Stars at home in Cary, N.C. on Sunday, May 21 at 4 pm E.T.