CARY, N.C. (April 29, 2017) – Orlando Pride (0-2-1, 1 point) fell to the reigning National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) champions on Saturday afternoon as the North Carolina Courage took a 3-1 decision at WakeMed Soccer Park. Brazilian Camila scored her first NWSL goal, with a highlight-reel strike in the 27th minute.
The Courage (3-0-0, 9 points) are the former Western New York Flash, who relocated under new ownership during the offseason.
“It was a game of good things and bad things, but I think it was a fair result this evening. North Carolina is the most potent team in the league and coming to play here is not easy. They deserve credit for the team they have built,” Pride Head Coach Tom Sermanni said. “But we need to find ways to capitalize on the opportunities we are given. We are doing a lot of good things but small mistakes or mental lapses will cost us in the worst moments. We have the pieces on the roster to get the results, we just need to find a way to get all of the parts working effectively together at the same time.”
The host team got on the board first when Jessica McDonald jumped on a rebound in the sixth minute. North Carolina forward Lynn Williams put a header on net that goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris denied with a kick save, but McDonald was able to find the loose ball to make it 1-0.
The Pride responded when Camila won an aerial battle at midfield and then dribbled to the top of the area before firing a curling shot past the diving attempt of Sabrina D’Angelo. It was the first goal conceded by the Courage this season.
The Pride finished with five shots on frame against a North Carolina defense that had only allowed one shot on goal through its first two matches.
“We looked at the stats the other day and we’ve actually had the most shots in the league and I think in the three games we’ve played we’ve had a reasonable amount of possession,” Sermanni added. “We’ve been in areas where we could have done more and we haven’t. We need to have a little bit more ingenuity or a little bit more development up front to finish off our chances.”
The Courage, however, broke the deadlock six minutes later after a handball in the box led to a penalty kick goal by Samantha Mewis. Williams extended the Courage lead to 3-1 in the 70th minute, taking a right-footed shot that saw a favorable bounce off the far post and in.
Harris had a record game in goal, making a career-high 10 saves, including a 21st minute goal line denial on Williams and another breakaway stop on the 2016 NWSL MVP in the 48th minute.
After being acquired on April 7 and seeing her first on field action as a second-half substitute in last week’s draw against Washington, Brazilian midfielder Marta made her first career NWSL start on Saturday. The five-time FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year played all 90 minutes and came inches from her first NWSL goal after connecting on a cross from Jasmyne Spencer, but her 39th minute attempt was cleared off the line by Abby Dahlkemper.
Rookie midfielder Nickolette Driesse also made her first NWSL appearance, entering the match as a substitute in the 82nd minute.
The Pride will close out the two-game road trip next weekend, traveling to face FC Kansas City at 6 p.m. ET on May 7. Following the match at Swope Soccer Village, the Pride return to Orlando City Stadium for a rematch with the Courage on May 14. Tickets to the 5 p.m. game are available at www.orlando-pride.com/ticket or by calling (855) ORL-CITY.
NWSL Match Report
Match: North Carolina Courage vs. Orlando Pride
Date: April 29, 2017
Venue: WakeMed Soccer Park
Kickoff: 4 p.m. ET
NC - Jessica McDonald 6’
ORL - Camila 27’
NC - Samantha Mewis (PK) 33’
NC - Lynn Williams (Debinha) 70’
Orlando Pride: Ashlyn Harris (c); Ali Krieger, Laura Alleway, Alanna Kennedy, Steph Catley; Camila, Monica (Dani Weatherholt 69’), Kristen Edmonds; Marta, Chioma Ubogagu (Nickolette Driesse 82’), Jasmyne Spencer (Danica Evans 69’)
Substitutes Not Used: Aubrey Bledsoe; Toni Pressley; Maddy Evans; Jamia Fields
North Carolina Courage: Sabrina D’Angelo; Abby Dahlkemper, Abby Erceg (c), Yuri Kawamura; Makenzy Doniak (Taylor Smith 76’), Samantha Mewis, McCall Zerboni, Jaelene Hinkle (Sam Witteman 76’); Jessica McDonald (Ashley Hatch 83’), Debinha, Lynn Williams
Substitutes Not Used: Katelyn Rowland; Courtney Niemiec, Meredith Speck; Kristen Hamilton
Stats Summary: NC / ORL
Possession: 47.2% / 52.8%
Shots: 23 / 13
Shots on Goal: 13 / 5
Saves: 10 / 4
Corner Kicks: 9 / 2
Fouls: 9 / 6
Offside: 1 / 4
NC - Samantha Mewis (Yellow Card) 18’
ORL - Laura Alleway (Yellow Card) 33’
NC - McCall Zerboni (Yellow Card) 81’
NC - Samantha Witteman (Yellow Card) 84’
Referee: Farhad Dadkho
Assistant Referee 1: Amanda Ross
Assistant Referee 2: Ryan Graves
Fourth Official: Aaron Gallagher