The Orlando Pride were starting to feel the heat.
In their first four NWSL games they found two draws and two losses. And while they knew that they were a team that should be winning, their squad wasn’t firing on all cylinders. The players knew that each game was a new opportunity to prove the doubters wrong, and on Sunday, they found success.
“The mood around the players was great. I felt the stress,” Head Coach Tom Sermanni said with a laugh. “It was important, as a coach, that you keep the stress away from players as much as you can. And to be honest, the environment in the squad all week, building up to this game, was fantastic. And it was great today.”
The Pride found their first victory against the North Carolina Courage, who came into this match with a perfect record. Orlando didn’t just find a win, but they found it against one of the best teams in the league.
“It feels great. I think we have great players and they’re great people too. I think every day we love being at training and we love to be there and we’re playing really well,” Chioma Ubogagu, who gave the Pride an early second half lead, said after the match. “So, it’s unfortunate that we weren’t getting the results that we felt as a team we could get. So, today getting it at home, with that crowd, on Mother’s Day, it was special. It was nice, so hopefully we can keep building off this.”
Ali Krieger admitted the team was starting to feel the pressure, and we’re getting frustrated with themselves. But any team can win on any day, and Orlando proved that on Sunday.
“It’s very gratifying. I think we did feel a little bit of the pressure, but we have to stay relaxed and we have to stay focused. You have to believe that you can win, and I think we went out there today with that confidence,” Krieger said. “Obviously, you feel the pressure when you haven’t won a game in the first four games of the season and that’s very difficult, you don’t want to then get into a whole that you can’t get out of. So, we understand that. But we know we’re good. We know we’re a good team, and I don’t think the records show how good we are on the field. That has been frustrating for us. We know we can win we just need to finish the chances we are providing each other.”
With a win in their pockets, Sermanni is hoping that the team can take their momentum and confidence to next weekend’s match in Seattle and beyond.
I think that just getting that first win takes the pressure off. But it’s more magnified by the fact that we beat-- at the moment-- the top team in the league. So, that further helps our confidence,” Sermanni said. “The key thing now is to make sure that we then continue to play and continue to improve. So, it’s just one game, it’s just one win, and we need to now start to solidify and get on a bit of a run.