match recap

ORLANDO, Fla. (Sept. 21, 2022) - Orlando Pride (5-9-6, 21 points) fell 3-0 to the North Carolina Courage (8-8-4, 28 points) at Exploria Stadium on Wednesday night. The Courage were backed by a brace from Debinha and a late first-half goal from Tess Boade. With the loss the Pride split the season series with the Courage, after having previously taken a 2-1 win away earlier in the season. 

18-year-old forward Haley Bugeja made her NWSL and Orlando Pride debut, entering as a second-half substitute in the 71st minute for Leah Pruitt. With the appearance Bugeja becomes the fourth youngest player to ever appear in an NWSL match. The match also saw Pride goalkeeper Erin McLeod return to the starting group after missing the Club’s previous two matches while in concussion protocol. 

Orlando Pride is next set to host San Diego Wave FC this Sunday, Sept. 25 at Exploria Stadium, the team’s final home match of the season as Wednesday’s defeat eliminated the team from postseason contention. The game is set to kickoff at 7 p.m. ET and be streamed live on Paramount+.

Orlando Pride Interim Head Coach Seb Hines:

“[A game] defined by three moments really. It’s always difficult when you go down a goal so early on, but I felt like we didn’t really get out of control, I didn’t think the game really got away from us and it was defined by a couple of moments that North Carolina took. We had chances, we had chances to attack and get something on frame and it could be a completely different result if we take those moments.”

Scoring Recap:

2’ Debinha - NC 1, ORL 0

The visitors got on the board early in the game as the Courage played a direct ball in the direction of the Pride’s backline. The ball took an unlucky deflection off the head of Megan Montefusco and directed right into the path of a running Debinha, who slotted the ball low into the left side of the net to open the scoring. 

45+1’ Tess Boade (Debinha) - NC 2, ORL 0

The Courage doubled their advantage just moments before the halftime break as Debinha turned provider. The Brazilian forward chipped in a pass to Tess Boade at the top of the Orlando box, who brought the pass down and shot a low ball to Erin McLeod’s left and in for North Carolina’s second goal. 

53’ Debinha - NC 3, ORL 0

Striking on the other side of the halftime break, the Courage raised their lead again off of a corner kick. Merritt Mathias stepped up and sent the corner into the box, with her ball being cleared wide by Celia for the Pride. The clearance was picked up at the right corner of the box by Debinha, who fired in a high-arcing shot to the left-side netting of the net for her second of the night. 

Match Notes:

  • Entering the match in the 71st minute, Haley Bugeja not only made her Pride debut but became the fourth youngest player to ever appear in an NWSL match. 
  • Wednesday’s match marked “Woof Wednesday” for the Pride, the first time the Club allowed fans to bring their dogs to the stadium for a match. 
  • With the loss, Orlando splits the season series with the Courage, after picking up a 2-1 win in Cary, N.C. earlier in the campaign. 
  • Goalkeeper Erin McLeod returned to the starting XI on Wednesday night, missing the previous two matches while in concussion protocol. 
  • Interim Head Coach Seb Hines made seven changes to his starting lineup from the Pride’s last match against Racing Louisville, with Erin McLeod, Celia, Carrie Lawrence, Gunny Jónsdóttir, Ally Watt, Leah Pruitt and Kerry Abello all appearing in the XI for this match.  
  • The defeat officially eliminated the Pride from 2022 postseason contention. 

Next Match: Orlando Pride is next set to wrap up its home season against San Diego Wave FC this Sunday, Sept. 25, at Exploria Stadium. The match will kickoff at 7 p.m. ET and be streamed live on Paramount+.