North Carolina Courage went into Orlando to take three points from the Orlando Pride for the second time this season. Debinha, Merritt Mathias and Jessica McDonald each scored a goal in a three minute span to secure the victory. The Courage improved to a 11W-1L-3D recorded, leaders of the table, while the Pride fall to 6W-5L-4D record. Currently, Orlando is second in the standings but with three more NWSL matches this week, Orlando may fall in the standings by week’s end.
The first half the North Carolina Courage dominated the midfield and controlled the pace of play. Orlando had a few chances but the majority of play was in their defensive half. Orlando thought they had an early lead but Alex Morgan was called for an foul for pushing Courage defender Abby Dahlkemper.
Pride defenders Ali Krieger, Poliana, Shelina Zadorsky and Mônica had their hands full trying to keep Courage attackers out of their defensive third. The Courage broke through in the 37th minute off a turnaround shot from Brazilian international Debinha. Crystal Dunn lofted a ball near the penalty spot. After a couple bounces and a failed clearance, Debinha was able to make a quick turn to put a shot on net. Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris was able to get a hand on it but was not strong enough as the ball trickled over the goal line. North Carolina defender Mathias extended the lead in the 39th minute on a deflected strike for her third goal of the season. After a failed clearance midfielder Denise O’Sullivan sent the ball to over Debinha a the top of the box. Debinha then laided the ball to a wide open Mathias for a shot that deflected off Pride defender Poliana bouncing past Harris. A minute later Jessica McDonald finished off the scoring when she got behind Orlando defenders bending shot past Harris. The goal started from a great string of passes down the middle from Dunn and O'Sullivan. McDonald’s goal was her fifth of the season and 40th career NWSL regular season goal.
Pride unable to answer
After North Carolina’s third goal, the Pide were able to put some pressure on Courage keeper Katelyn Rowland. Rowland was able to stop shots from Emily van Egmond and Sydney Leroux. Early in the second half Orlando came on to earn four consecutive corners. Brazilian, Marta almost tailed from the corner spot that Rowland pushed onto the crossbar. Morgan added another shot that Rowland fought off hitting the post. Despite the Pride having a 10-3 advantage on corners, they could not convert them. During the 81st minute, after the Pride used all their subs, Morgan would come off due to a calf injury forcing the Pride to finish the match with 10 players. Marta was able to create one chance with Morgan out but her shot curled wide.
Next week, the Courage will host the Chicago Red Stars in a midweek matchup Wednesday July 4 at 7:00 PM EST. The Pride will look to bounce back when they host the Washington Spirit for the Game of the Week on ESPNEWS at 7:30 PM EST Saturday, July 7.