Orlando Pride Close 2021 Challenge Cup with Scoreless Draw at North Carolina
CARY, N.C. - Orlando Pride (1-1-2, 5 points) wrapped up its 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup play on Saturday evening with a scoreless draw against host North Carolina Courage (2-1-1, 7 points) at Sahlen's Stadium.
The shutout marked the second consecutive for the Pride, whose backline also saw the introduction of Toni Pressley who earned her first start of the 2021 season. Orlando had a handful of chances to get on the scoreboard, including an early set piece take from Taylor Kornieck that ricocheted off of the crossbar.
With the draw, the Pride are now officially out of contention for the Challenge Cup Championship match, which will see the top team in both the East and West division face each other next week. Instead, Orlando can now shift its focus to the 2021 regular-season opener which is slated for Sunday, May 16 at Exploria Stadium against the Washington Spirit.
Orlando Pride Head Coach Marc Skinner:
"I couldn't be prouder in the defensive performance from the team tonight. Yes, we needed to win to progress but I think the progression we've shown as a group over these four games is exactly what we wanted. To take a team [North Carolina] that openly admits they want a shootout against other teams and score goals, to keep a second [consecutive] clean sheet is just a wonderful kind of moment for us. I just said to the players, we will get better the more we get to know each other. But you have to pay respect to an opponent that, you're in their backyard, who are the champions and they also have the ability to open you up on the counterattack very, very quickly. So to exact the game plan and create the moments that we did, I couldn't be prouder of this group and the growth that I've seen over the four games. It's a really good place and it puts us in good stead to start the regular season."
Defender Toni Pressley earned her first start of the season, slotting in at left center back and playing all 90 minutes. With the lineup addition, Phoebe McClernon, who had played left center back the Pride's previous three games, moved to right center back.
Gunny Jónsdóttir featured at right back for the second-straight match, also her second-ever appearance as an Orlando player. The midfielder shifted to her natural position later in the match after Courtney Petersen came in as a substitute in the 76th minute.
Forward Crystal Thomas made her Pride debut, coming in as a sub in the 83rd minute. Thomas was signed earlier in the year after a preseason trial with the Club.
Orlando earned its third-straight draw against the Courage on Saturday night, after two stalemates during the 2020 Fall Series - a 0-0 tie on September 19 and a come-from-behind 3-3 draw on October 17.
Next Match: The Pride open the 2021 NWSL regular season on Sunday, May 16, hosting the Washington Spirit at Exploria Stadium. The match will be open to a reduced capacity, with seats guaranteed for 2021 Season Ticket Members and partial plan holders.
Teams 1 2 F
Orlando Pride 0 0 0
North Carolina Courage 0 0 0
NC - Schuyler Debree (Yellow Card 3')
Orlando Pride - GK Ashlyn Harris ©; D Gunny Jónsdóttir, Phoebe McClernon, Toni Pressley, Ali Riley; M Jade Moore (Courtney Petersen 76'), Marta, Marisa Viggiano (Meggie Dougherty Howard 88'); F Taylor Kornieck, Alex Morgan, Sydney Leroux (Crystal Thomas 83')
Substitutes Not Used: GK Erin McLeod; D, Carrie Lawrence, Konya Plummer, Ally Haran; M Chelsee Washington; F Abi Kim
North Carolina Courage - GK Casey Murphy; D Kaleigh Kurtz, Schuyler DeBree, Hailie Mace (Cari Roccaro 75'); M Carson Pickett, Denise O'Sullivan, Debinha, Ryan Williams (Merritt Mathias 63'), Kristen Hamilton (Taylor Smith 83'); F Lynn Williams, Jessica McDonald © (Lindsay Agnew 83')
Substitutes Not Used: GK Katelyn Rowland; D Diane Caldwell; M Peyton Perea, Meredith Speck; F Rylee Baisden
Details of the Game:
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Date: May 1, 2021
Stats Summary: ORL / NC
Possession: 39% / 61%
Shots: 9 / 19
Shots on Goal: 2 / 3
Saves: 3 / 2
Corner Kicks: 1 / 9
Fouls: 5 / 7
Offside: 0 / 2
REF: Ekaterina Koroleva
AR1: Justin Howard
AR2: Jeremy Smith
4TH: Emma Richards
• Discuss this story on the National Women's Soccer League message board...
National Women's Soccer League Stories from May 1, 2021
- Dash Host Portland to Close out Challenge Cup Sunday - Houston Dash
- Orlando Pride Close 2021 Challenge Cup with Scoreless Draw at North Carolina - Orlando Pride
- Courage, Pride Draw in Their Final Match of Challenge Cup Group Stage - North Carolina Courage
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- NWSL Announces Zero NWSL Personnel Test Positive in Latest Covid-19 Results - NWSL
- NWSL Disciplinary Committee Issues Decisions - NWSL
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