Orlando Pride

'A positive result': Draw in Challenge Cup opener a step in right direction for Orlando Pride


ORLANDO, Fla. -- It was a step in the right direction for the Orlando Pride season on Wednesday night. After three tough results to begin the year, the Pride managed to secure a 1-1 draw against the North Carolina Courage to begin the UKG Challenge Cup.

Heading into stoppage time, it looked like they would be able to secure all three points on the night after Ally Watt scored a 56th-minute goal, but the Courage's Denise O'Sullivan scored with the last kick of the game to steal two points on the road.

It's become an unfortunate trend over the last three games at home where the last four goals the Pride have conceded have been late into stoppage time. That trend is one the team is hopeful to learn from and fix soon.

"Yes, it is a positive result because we take the lead, but it feels like another defeat and we have to learn from it," Pride head coach Seb Hines said after the game.

"We have to get over that mentality because again, we're talking about fine margins. The last couple of games are defined by fine margins towards the end of the game, and we could be looking at a couple of draws and wins and we're looking at a draw and two losses. It's frustrating."

For a team that's average age of starters is only 25, there's still plenty to take away from a game like Saturday and the draw is certainly a step in the right direction for the young team. The players, however, are a bit more impatient. They are wanting to take that next step in their season, and they're persistent in their pursuit for that to come sooner rather than later.

"We're here to win games and we want to win games for our fans, and we need points," Pride midfielder Summer Yates said. "It feels like a loss to us and we just kind of learn from it. That was the biggest thing. We're young, but we need to grow quick."

With the performances the Pride have put in, the fact they haven't been able to walk away from games with more points than they have has been tough for Hines and his staff. They have seen the work the team has put into training and in games, where the execution has been there. But the moments keep coming back to haunt them in the end.

While Hines wants his players to learn from each lesson, he also desperately wants his team to see a return on their performances.

"They're all bought into what we're trying to do, and I just want them to reward themselves for all the effort that they're putting in by getting points on the board," he said.

The Pride will look to do just that when they get back to league action on Sunday at Kansas City. Kickoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Paramount+.