Orlando Pride

Match report: Orlando Pride splits points in opening game of 2023 UKG NWSL Challenge Cup


ORLANDO, Fla. (April 19, 2023) – Orlando Pride (Challenge Cup: 0-0-1, 1 point) played to a 1–1 draw against the defending Challenge Cup Champions North Carolina Courage (Challenge Cup: 0-0-1, 1 point) on Wednesday night at Exploria Stadium. The match served as the Club’s opening match of the 2023 UKG NWSL Challenge Cup, which now runs concurrently with the season as opposed to years past when it was at the beginning of the year.

The Pride were backed by a second-half strike from Ally Watt, which served as her first of the 2023 season. Midfielder Summer Yates picked up her first assist on the goal, making her professional debut by getting the nod in the starting XI. Along with Yates, defender Tori Hansen and midfielder Maliah Morris also earned their professional debuts.

Goalkeeper Carly Nelson earned the start in between the sticks for the Pride marking her debut with the Club. Nelson made some key saves in the second half, including a point-blank stop at the near post to deny a goal on a free kick as well as a kick save in the 88th minute on a one-on-one break. Nelson finished the night with five saves.

Scoring Summary:

56’ Ally Watt (Summer Yates) - ORL 1, NC 0

The home side found the first goal with Summer Yates threading a ball through the Courage backline and finding a sprinting Ally Watt. Watt got on the end of the pass and struck the ball with her first touch and it crossed over the goal line despite a touch from Courage goalkeeper Casey Murphy.

90+9’ Denise O’Sullivan - ORL 1, NC 1

The visitors found a late leveler with Denise O’Sullivan striking the ball on the volley through a crowded penalty area.

Head Coach Seb Hines:

“The players were tremendous, they put the work in, they were brilliant and they stuck to the game plan. You take a 1-0 lead and we have to learn. That is the only way that we can develop, we have to learn from these moments...They are committed, they are running, they are competing, they are battling, and I just want them to reward themselves by winning a game of football...Of course, you should be disappointed with the results, but we should be walking away today knowing that it was three points, it was a win at home and it was a win in front of our fans. We have to learn and develop in these moments and that is the only way that we are going to grow.”

Match Notes:

  • Ally Watt recorded her first goal of the 2023 campaign with the second-half finish.
  • Summer Yates tallied her first professional assist on the Watt goal.
  • Goalkeeper Carly Nelson, defender Tori Hansen and midfielders Summer Yates and Viviana Villacorta all made their first starts for the Pride.
  • Hansen and Yates also made their professional debuts with the start along with Maliah Morris who came on as a second-half substitute.
  • The match marked the Pride debut for Nelson, who previously played one match for the Kansas City Current in 2021.
  • Seb Hines made a total of six rotations to his starting XI for the Challenge Cup opener, with Nelson, Megan Montefusco, Hansen, Viviana Villacorta, Watt and Yates all entering the lineup.

Next Match: The Pride will return to NWSL regular season play and travel to Children’s Mercy Park to take on the Kansas City Current. Kickoff for that match is scheduled for 5 p.m. ET.