CARY, N.C. (May 18, 2022) - Orlando Pride (2-1-1, 7 points) extended its unbeaten run to three matches, defeating the 2022 Challenge Cup Champions North Carolina Courage (0-2-0, 0 points) by a score of 2-1 on Wednesday night at WakeMed Soccer Park in what also served as back-to-back wins on the road after taking a victory at Angel City on May 8.
Mikayla Cluff scored her first professional goal in the match, serving as the deciding finish on the night for the Pride. Sydney Leroux accounted for the other for the side, her second of the year, both of which have come inside the first five minutes of the match.
The Pride rolled out a starting lineup with a number of young prospects, with Jordyn Listro, Viviana Villacorta and Julie Doyle all recording their first NWSL starts, while Abi Kim also got the nod in the first XI for the first time this campaign. The side faces a quick turnaround yet again, set to host the Chicago Red Stars on Sunday, May 22 at Exploria Stadium.
Orlando Pride Head Coach Amanda Cromwell:
“[It was] very exciting, my adrenaline is still going from those last six minutes of injury time. North Carolina is a very good team. They won the Challenge Cup, they have a lot of great attacking pieces, so holding onto a lead was really hard to do and I was really proud of our effort. Getting the early goal and getting a second goal is just so important to back up the goal scoring and try to solidify your lead. I think we were unlucky not to get a third but really, really proud of the effort. It’s a midweek game and we were able to rest a few players that needed it and you saw the lineup was different, but it was really important that we got players some rest and they were then able to come on either at half or didn’t play at all. It was a really good tactical game for us to get the win and get the three points.”
4’ Sydney Leroux - ORL 1, NC 0
The Pride took the early lead with a shot from Mikayla Cluff forcing Casey Murphy into a diving effort, however the rebound fell to the foot of Sydney Leroux, who was able to tuck it into the far post for the finish.
44’ Mikayla Cluff - ORL 2, NC 0
Orlando doubled its lead with Celia threading a ball in behind for Julie Doyle down the right flank, who was able to cut a ball across to goal for Sydney Leroux. The Pride forward challenged for the ball, forcing a deflection toward a running Mikayla Cluff, where the BYU-product hit it first time past North Carolina goalkeeper Casey Murphy for her first professional goal.
86’ Brianna Pinto (Ryan Williams) - ORL 2, NC 1
The Courage halved the deficit with Ryan Williams finding Brianna Pinto in the area, who was able to turn and fire a shot, taking a deflection off the Pride defense into the back of the net.
- With the victory, the Pride are now unbeaten in their last three visits to WakeMed Soccer Park in NWSL regular season action, having taken a win and a draw in Cary last campaign.
- Mikayla Cluff scored her first professional goal for the Pride.
- Sydney Leroux scored her second goal of the campaign, each of which netted inside of five minutes for the Pride. Leroux has now scored three of the six fastest goals in Club history, with finishes in the second, third and fourth minutes in her Orlando career.
- Viviana Villacorta made her first professional start in the match after earning her professional debut in the Pride’s season opener on May 1.
- Julie Doyle tallied her first professional start in what served as her fourth appearance in all competitions for the Pride this campaign.
- Jordyn Listro recorded her first regular season start for the Pride across two separate stints for the Club. The Canadian international appeared three times for Orlando in the Fall Series in 2020, eventually signing a full contract before being traded to Kansas City Current a year ago. Listro was inked to a deal once more for Orlando on May 7.
- Abi Kim started her second NWSL regular season game for the Pride and her first of 2022.
- Head Coach Amanda Cromwell made five changes to her starting lineup, with Villacorta, Doyle, Listro, Kim and Kylie Strom all reentering the fold.
Next Match: The Pride return home on Sunday, May 22, set to take on the Chicago Red Stars in a 7 p.m. ET kickoff at Exploria Stadium.