Orlando Pride Travel to North Carolina on Saturday
ORLANDO, Fla. - The Orlando Pride (1-1-1, 4 points) closes out play in the East Division of the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup on Saturday, May 1, facing the North Carolina Courage (2-1-0, 6 points) at WakeMed Soccer Park. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ET.
The match will be nationally televised on CBS Sports Network, with international viewers able to stream on Twitch. The fixture will mark the Club's second national broadcast of the tournament, featuring in half of the divisional round CBS Sports Network matches for the competition.
"It'll be a really tough game. North Carolina is in a transition period with their players, but what they are expecting of themselves still remains the same. They're a very strong team that has really high level forwards that can cause you problems at any point to which we need to be very focused," Orlando Pride Head Coach Marc Skinner said of Saturday's opposition. "We're going to have a very clear, disciplined approach, but also then look to exploit the weaknesses we feel they can have at times and that we need to take advantage of. It'll be a very tough game and a battle of transitions. It will be a really good test of where we are at at this moment."
The Pride come into the weekend looking to build off a 1-0 victory over the Washington Spirit last Wednesday. Sydney Leroux scored the eventual game-winner for the home side in the 11th minute of play, with teammate Alex Morgan slotting through a ball for Leroux to run onto for the finish. Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris registered nine saves in the match, including a denial from the penalty spot for the second-consecutive week, to preserve the clean sheet for the Pride.
Leroux joins Taylor Kornieck and Abi Kim, each with one finish in the Challenge Cup, while midfielder Meggie Dougherty Howard sits in second in the league with two assists. With 13 saves through three matches. Harris sits tied for the league-lead with Gotham's DiDi Haracic.
North Carolina enters Saturday's match after defeating Racing Louisville 3-2 on the road this past Monday. Goals from Kristen Hamilton and Debinha on both sides of the break gave the Courage a 2-1 lead late into the second half before a 75th minute equalizer from Jorian Baucom. However, a 84th game-winner via an own goal from Julia Ashley secured all three points for the Courage, who sit now with six points in the East Division of the 2021 Challenge Cup.
Debinha sits atop the NWSL with three finishes in as many matches for the Courage, while teammate Jessica McDonald leads the league in assists with three to her credit. McDonald and Kristen Hamilton trail Debinha with two finishes in the competition, while Hailie Mace follows McDonald with two assists to tie for second in the NWSL.
Orlando can still qualify for the Challenge Cup Final, needing a victory at North Carolina and a Gotham loss to Louisville over the weekend. The Pride will also need to beat out the New Jersey-based side in tiebreakers, with goal differential being the first to break any potential deadlock.
The Pride will begin their 2021 NWSL regular season on Sunday, May 16, hosting the Washington Spirit at Exploria Stadium. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. ET., with guaranteed access for Season Ticket Members and partial ticket package holders. Fans wishing to receive more information on Orlando Pride ticket packages can inquire here or by calling 1-855-ORL-CITY.
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