ORLANDO, Fla. (May 1, 2022) - Orlando Pride (0-1-0, 0 points) dropped a 3-0 decision to NJ/NY Gotham FC (1-0-0, 3 points) on Sunday night at Exploria Stadium in the Club’s 2022 NWSL regular-season opener. 

Gotham FC saw goals from McCall Zerboni, Margaret Purce and Kristie Mewis in the 29th, 30th and 41st minutes, respectively, to send the New Jersey-based side into the halftime break with the three-goal lead. The Pride created chances in the second half to try and cut into the deficit, including a low cutting shot from Angharad James in the 86th minute that forced a diving save from Ashlyn Harris to keep the Pride off the board at the end of the match. 

Sunday’s match saw four players make their NWSL regular-season debuts and one player make her professional debut. Starters Mikayla Cluff and Kerry Abello as well as second-half subs Carrie Lawrence and forward Julie Doyle achieved the same milestone. Doyle was selected 11th overall in the 2022 NWSL Draft, while Lawrence was signed via Discovery in January 2021. 

Midfielder Viviana Villacorta made her professional debut for the Pride in the 72nd minute of tonight’s match. Villacorta was selected by the Pride at No. 9 overall in the 2021 NWSL College Draft out of the University of California Los Angeles. The midfielder returned to UCLA following the Draft for her senior season but picked up a season-ending injury in the team’s first game of 2021.

Orlando Pride Head Coach Amanda Cromwell:

“I thought we started well again. I think we had some of our best building moments out of the back, created some chances early on in the first 30 and right before their first goal we created some chances. Again we can’t let one goal affect us like that. We need to be mentally resilient in those moments. There’s obviously some frustration with those 10 minutes again and I think Seb [Hines] said it very well at the end in the huddle, we can’t let parts like five minutes or 10 minutes of games dictate how our season is going to go. We have to play a 90-minute game and we have yet to do that.”

Scoring Recap:

  • 29’ McCall Zerboni (Kristie Mewis) - NJNY 1, ORL 0

The visitors struck first, taking advantage of a set piece opportunity off of a corner kick. Gotham midfielder Kristie Mewis put a ball into the mixer and found the head of NJ/NY captain McCall Zerboni. Zerboni headed the ball into the ground at the far post and found the top left corner on the bounce. 

  • 30’ Margaret Purce (Imani Dorsey) - NJNY 2, ORL 0

Gotham extended their lead just one minute later, creating a breakaway off of a throw in. Imani Dorsey one-timed a long ball to a charging Margaret Purce off the throw in. Purce took Pride goalkeeper Erin McLeod one-on-one, dribbled around and chipped the ball into the right side of the net for Gotham’s second goal of the night. 

  • 41’ Kristie Mewis (Margaret Purce) - NJNY 3, ORL 0

Adding another just before the halftime break, Gotham FC made it three tallies in the first half. Kristie Mewis got on the end of a Margaret Purce cross on the left side of the Pride 18-yard box. Mewis danced through a couple defenders before firing the ball low into the right side of the net. 

Match Notes:

  • Carrie Lawrence made her NWSL regular-season debut, entering the match at the start of the second half for Celia. The defender has previously appeared for the Pride in the 2020 Fall Series and both the 2021 and 2022 versions of the Challenge Cup. 
  • Viviana Villacorta made her professional debut in tonight’s match, entering as a second-half substitute for Gunny Jónsdóttir in the 72nd minute. 
  • Julie Doyle earned her first minutes in an NWSL regular-season match after being subbed on in the 84th minute for Leah Pruitt. 
  • Rookies Mikayla Cluff and Kerry Abello earned their regular season debuts, starting in the midfield and at forward, respectively. 
  • Goalkeeper Erin McLeod returned between the sticks on the night, her first appearance since undergoing knee surgery on April 5, 2022. 
  • Sydney Leroux entered the match as a substitute after the break, her first match since missing the team’s final three games of the Challenge Cup due to injury. 

Next Match: Orlando hits the road for the first time in the 2022 regular season, traveling to face Angel City FC for the first time on Sunday, May 8 at 8 p.m. ET at Banc of California Stadium.