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Courage Bested by Pride at Home Wednesday Night

May 18, 2022 - National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) - North Carolina Courage News Release

CARY, NC - The North Carolina Courage fell to the visiting Orlando Pride 2-1 on Wednesday night, despite a hard-fought battle through the full 90 and several chances to equalize in stoppage time. Sydney Leroux and Mikayla Cluff tallied a goal apiece for the Pride, with Brianna Pinto adding a goal for the Courage in the 86th minute. Carson Pickett recorded her 100th regular season NWSL appearance during the match, and Casey Murphy made her return to the starting lineup since sustaining an injury early in preseason.

"I'd say in the last 20 minutes we were on our front foot trying to come back," said Pinto following the match. "I think our game changers did a really great job, so hats off to them. I was on the right side of the field and got the ball from Ryan and I knew I didn't have a ton of space to go to my left and go endline, so I spun inside and I shot it, and it got deflected into goal. I was actually trying to go back post, but it ended up working out, so I was happy about that."

Orlando were first to break the ice in Wednesday's match, the scoring play beginning with an initial shot on goal from Cluff. Murphy was quick to deny Cluff's attempt with a diving save, but the shot took a deflection, falling at the feet of Leroux. With her first touch, Leroux placed a shot into the lower 90 to give the visitors the upper hand in the fourth minute, 1-0. Cluff netted Orlando's second goal in the 44th minute, the 2-0 scoreline holding as the first half expired.

Finally cutting Orlando's lead in half was Pinto, who entered the match as a second half substitute and subsequently collected her first professional regular season goal in the 86th minute. Settling a pass just inside the eighteen and beating her defender, the Durham native hammered a shot past Pride goalkeeper Erin McLeod to bring the score to 2-1.

The North Carolina side fought desperately to recover the deficit in the final minutes of the second half and into stoppage time, with Diana Ordoñez and Brittany Ratcliffe each finding the back of the net only to have their goals called offside. The Pride held onto the lead as the final whistle blew, claiming three points.

"We gave ourselves a chance, which is all we ask for," said Head Coach Sean Nahas. "I thought that second goal really hurt us that late in the first half, but the last ten days have been tough. The way the players stepped up, playing out of position, it's not ideal, [but they] competed, not familiar with their roles and responsibilities and still kept the game in a situation where we had chances. Overall, we just didn't perform to the level that we felt we could. Going down 2-0 is an uphill battle. We showed a lot of fight, a lot of grit, and a lot of character."

Up Next: The North Carolina Courage will continue their regular season campaign at WakeMed Soccer Park on Sunday, May 22 at 2 p.m. ET against San Diego Wave FC. Tickets to the match are available here, and the match will be available to stream on Paramount+, Twitch (International) and FOX50 (locally).

Match Notes:

Casey Murphy returned to the starting lineup in tonight's match.

Brianna Pinto scored her first regular season professional goal in the 86th minute of play.

Carson Pickett registered her 100th NWSL regular season appearance in tonight's match.

Box Score:

NC (4-5-1): Casey Murphy, Kaleigh Kurtz, Malia Berkely, Ryan Williams, Jaelene Daniels, Debinha, Meredith Speck (Brittany Ratcliffe - 72'), Rylee Baisden (Denise O'Sullivan - 54'), Jorian Baucom (Havana Solaun - 46' (Brianna Pinto - 75')), Taylor Smith (Carson Pickett - 46'), Diana Ordoñez

Subs Not Used: Haleigh Stackpole, Frankie Tagliaferri, Marisa Bova

ORL (5-4-1): Erin McLeod, Kylie Strom, Megan Montefusco, Carrie Lawrence, Celia Jiménez Delgado, Viviana Villacorta (Angharad James - 46'), Mikayla Cluff (Leah Pruitt - 61'), Jordyn Listro, Julie Doyle (Kerry Abello - 45+1' (Courtney Petersen - 89')), Sydney Leroux, Abi Kim (Darian Jenkins - 46')

Subs Not Used: Anna Moorhouse, Gunny Jónsdóttir, Erika Tymrak, Toni Pressley


NC: 1

ORL: 2


NC: Brianna Pinto - 86'

ORL: Sydney Leroux - 4', Mikayla Cluff - 44'


NC: -

ORL: Darian Jenkins - 73'


NC: -

ORL: -

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