ORLANDO, Fla. – The Orlando Pride (1-2-2, 5 points) entered Sunday’s Mother’s Day match ready to battle for its first win of the season and left victorious, taking all three points against the visiting North Carolina Courage (4-1-0, 12 points).
The Pride took a two-goal lead in a span of 70 seconds and never let off, seeing through a 3-1 final at Orlando City Stadium.
With the win, the Pride become to the first team to beat the Courage this season and first team to score multiple goals against the relocated side.
“[It’s] great to get the first win against, at the moment, the best team in the league and the most difficult team in the league to play against. [I’m] really delighted with the effort of the players and the focus today and the way they defended because playing North Carolina, you need to do a lot of defending from corner kicks, throw-ins and other things coming into the box,” Head Coach Tom Sermanni said. “We still need to do some things a little bit better, as we always do. But I think the difference today was we got in front and that eases the pressure and allows us to play a little bit. I think getting this first result will give us the confidence to then kick on and hopefully eliminate the stuff that was costing us games previously.”
The Pride went into the locker room scoreless at half but came out with a renewed energy, taking a 1-0 lead in the 49th minute after Chioma Ubogagu got on the end of a driven cross from Ali Krieger. It was Ubogagu’s first goal of the season and made the Pride the first team to take a lead on North Carolina this year.
Barely over a minute after Ubogagu’s breakthrough, Camila netted her second goal of the season - and second against the Courage - with a transition goal after winning possession in the midfield. The Brazilian won the ball away from North Carolina’s Abby Dahlkemper and played a quick one-two with Jamia Fields, finishing calmly from steps inside the box.
The Pride iced the match late in the game on a goal from second-half substitute Jasmyne Spencer. After entering the match in the 62nd minute, Spencer timed a run into the box, collecting a slipped pass from Marta and burying her 11th career goal into the right side of the net.
North Carolina’s lone goal game in the 51st minute from the foot of Debinha.
Orlando’s offensive pressure put the Courage backline on its heels and forced Courage captain Abby Erceg into two yellow cards in transition, booked both times for impeding attackers’ runs. The second card came in the 57th minute, dropping the visitors to 10 players for the final 33 minutes of play.
Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris made three saves, including a 53rd-minute stop on Samantha Mewis, diving across the goal mouth to bat the midfielder’s header off of the goal line. Sunday also marked the season debut for forward Christina Burkenroad, who came into the game in the 82nd minute.
Orlando next travels across the country, facing Seattle Reign FC on Sunday evening. The match will kickoff at 9:30 p.m. from Memorial Stadium.
The Pride return to Orlando City Stadium on June 3, hosting the Boston Breakers at 4 p.m. Tickets are available online or by calling (855) ORL-CITY.