They Said It

💬 Seb Hines: 'I've been pleased with the progress that we've made' following end to UKG Challenge Cup run

Orlando Pride Head Coach Seb Hines

Opening statement  

“[The Challenge Cup has] been eventful. What it has allowed is, it's allowed a lot of players to get good minutes. It has allowed us to play in a competition midseason as well. I've been pleased with the progress that we've made, obviously, results haven't gone our way, but some of the performances have been brilliant. The attitude of the players has been great. It really showed today in today's game, we knew what was at stake for Gotham, but it was more about ourselves and getting back to what we're good at. I thought the first half performance was really good, we started the game fast, caused them a lot of problems. We deserved that goal from Messiah [Bright]. It was a great ball, great run from [Kerry] Abello on a great ball into a dangerous area, and Messiah [Bright] was there to put it in. We had a lot of good moments and luck hasn't gone our way. You look back in the second half, and there was obviously a goal that gets chopped off a handball, and you think, here we go again. Then they score really late on but we had enough to hold on for a draw. I think that's an important moment for us to not lose the game tonight after playing such a performance together today. I was really pleased with the players and their attitude. We need that to go into the, to the end of the season.” 

On building momentum towards the regular season 

“I think if we had lost that game tonight, there would have been a lot of heads down and thinking when is our next result going to come, considering the game against Washington Spirit at home, and then today, which is not an easy place to come. It was a final for Gotham because they knew that if they won, they would go through to the next round. It's hard, our backs were against the wall at times, we had to weather storms, and they'll challenge your attitude and mentality through that stuff. We were so unfortunate to concede the goal, but then we could have won at the end as well. I'm pleased with the players' performance. I'm pleased with how they have grown throughout the season, and it's going to be important for them to carry that on into the last seven games.” 

On seeing games out and defending late in the game when a team is pressuring 

“We got the lead and we were 1-0 up, it's late on in the game and they're going to commit more numbers into the attacks. They started pushing their fullbacks higher, they were going to gamble a lot more, because they needed two goals. Time's running out, they need to get that first one, to build momentum, so they pinned us back, pinned our wingbacks back, which is difficult. If that goal doesn't get chopped off, we've got a 2-0 lead and then they're probably weary of us in transition, but we didn't really get transition moments when that goal gets chopped off. You have to thrive in their moments. You have to be resolute, you have to be concentrated with picking up players up and stopping crosses, all the aspects of defending really, but also be threatening in transition, I thought there were moments where we weren’t threatening in transition, but it's always difficult because the opponent needs to get back into the game and they need to score goals so they can gamble a bit more and push more players forward. Ultimately, because you are 1-0 up, you have to be mindful about trying to clog it up and clog the spaces up and be a little bit more direct. It was difficult, but we walked away from a tough environment with a draw and if we pick up draws here and there, with a couple of wins, we'll put ourselves in a really good position towards the end of the season.”

Orlando Pride Forward Messiah Bright 

On the goal she scored 

“I thought we played pretty well as a team. I guess just to describe the goal, I just saw [Kerry] Abello running down the field, so my main concern was just getting in the width of the goal, and whatever popped out just making that run centrally. I knew she was going cross it, so I just wanted to be there for the tap in. I felt like we really played good as a team. It wasn't very individualistic. We were looking good together and putting more pressure where pressure needed to be put at in areas as a team. It's unfortunate that we didn't get the result that we wanted, but I think we still did good in the end run.” 

On the team's mentality holding off Gotham late in the match 

“Just in those situations, we know Gotham is a very aggressive team. I think in those moments, we do want to do better at staying locked in, because they were throwing everything they could at us to get a result or get a goal, which they did. I think that's just where we can grow as a team moving forward and just continue to learn in those areas.” 

On what changed in the second half of the match 

“They had a majority of the possession in the second half, so I think they were putting us on our back foot a lot and they were being very aggressive and they got the goal from it. It is just important for us to stay locked in during those moments and to just keep it as best as we can, which we did not do. We will continue to grow from it and learn for the next game.”

Orlando Pride Defender Haley McCutcheon 

Opening statement 

“I mean, obviously, we wanted to get the three points, just going into regular season play in a few days. We're not happy with the result, but it's something to build on. We are just going to take the good things and look at the things we can improve on moving forward.” 

On how the team can learn from this match after conceding a late goal 

“It is a hard lesson to have to learn especially, numerous times. We've definitely shown that we can get the shoutout, even with waves of pressure, but I think just looking at it from a standpoint of we can be in control of those late game moments, even when we don't have the ball. Then, when we do have the ball, just valuing that and having a plan to find goals and just being clear with those expectations for everybody. We will definitely be looking at that moving forward.” 

On what happened during the late goal given up 

“I think they were giving us some pressure, pushing a lot of numbers up on our line. We had made some tactical changes, formation changes and it's just about us being locked in for every moment. To let that one slip away, to let the cross happen and then to obviously, have a free player in the box is never something we want. Thankfully, this is the Challenge Cup and again, we wanted to win this game, we want to win every game, but just learn from it and move forward.”

Orlando Pride (6-8-1, 19 points) vs Chicago Red Stars (5-9-1, 16 points)

When: Sunday, August 20, 7:00 p.m.

Where: Exploria Stadium, Orlando, Fla.

TV: Paramount+ (subscription required)