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NWSL Challenge Cup: Despite Orlando Pride Midgame Rally, North Carolina Courage Still Dominate, 4-2



Orlando Pride's Celia Jimenez and Meggie Dougherty Howard attempt to control the ball as North Carolina Courage's Jaelene Daniels attempts a steal during the NWSL Challenge Cup match at Exploria Stadium Saturday, April 16, 2022. Photo: J. Willie David III / Florida National News.

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – North Carolina Courage, Orlando Pride’s longstanding rival, wasted no time showing their dominance in their NWSL Challenge Cup match against the Pride Saturday.

The relatively “new” Pride–with its new head coach and roster of fresh faces–have struggled for the duration of this tournament, with all losses save for a scoreless draw against the Washington Spirit in their very first match on March 19.


First Half

The Courage hit the Pride with their greatest weapon: speed. The Courage scored their first goal in the third minute, courtesy of Megan Oyster’s bounce off Orlando goalie Anna Moorehouse, setting the stage for a, well, challenging game.

In the sixth minute they scored again and buried the Pride with a third goal in the ninth minute.

Orlando Pride finally got on the board in the 16th minute thanks to Darian Jenkins’ straight shot through an opening up the middle, making the score 3-1.

The Courage missed one in the 22 minute. Former Pride player Carson Pickett, now playing for North Carolina, fired a left-footed shot from the right side of the six-yard box, which Orlando goalie saved in the bottom right corner.

The battle for the ball continued until halftime, but despite NC’s dominance, Orlando was able to hold them to three points. The score was still 3-1 at halftime.


Second Half

The second half saw Darian Jenkins score again in the 57th minute with a headed assist from Kerry Abello (a first career point for Abello), shrinking the gap to 3-2.

Orlando’s Carrie Lawrence got hit with a yellow card in the 73rd minute, suspending her from the next game against NJ/NY Gotham FC. Montefusco received one in the 77th minute and Jenkins also got one in the 79th minute, all for bad fouls.

While the Pride were able to still hold the Courage to three goals, Debinha put the nail in Orlando’s coffin with an 89th minute goal, doubling the Courage lead to 4-2.


Mellissa Thomas is Editor for Florida National News. |


MATCH RECAP: Pride Maintain Unbeaten Streak on Courtney Petersen’s First Career Goal



Orlando Pride defender Courtney Petersen celebrates after scoring the equalizer in the 90th minute against Gotham at Exploria Stadium Sunday, June 20, 2021. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – Source: Orlando Pride // Second-year defender Courtney Petersen scored her first career goal on Sunday night, a 90th minute equalizer, to lead the Orlando Pride (3-0-3) to a 1-1 draw with visiting NJ/NY Gotham FC (2-1-2). With the point, the Pride’s unbeaten streak reaches six-straight to start the regular season, and eight total dating back to the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup.

Despite going down 1-0 near the end of the first half, the Pride continued pushing and eventually found the equalizer in the final minutes of the match. The home side led the night with a 16 to 12 advantage on shots, including a three opportunity stretch immediately following Gotham’s goal as the team looked to quickly equalize.

Sunday also marked the Mission Rainbow match with the Club honoring the victims and survivors of the Pulse nightclub tragedy, which happened five-years ago, the first responders from that night, and also a celebration of Pride Month and the LGBTQ+ community.

“I thought we were the better team, I thought that we created chances that were much more effective than the chances they [Gotham] created,” said Orlando Pride head coach Marc Skinner postgame. “The players now are in a space where they are believing who they are, believing what the team is doing and believing together.”


Scoring Recap:

45’ Caprice Dydasco (Ifeoma Onumonu) – NJNY 1, ORL 0
The visiting side took the lead just before the first half whistle, with Caprice Dydasco directing a ball toward the far post that snuck beyond the outstretched Ashlyn Harris to find the side netting.

90’ Courtney Petersen (Marta) – ORL 1, NJNY 1
Late in the match, Marta and second-half substitute Erika Tymrak teamed up to cause a turnover in the midfield, with Marta ultimately sending the ball wide to Courtney Petersen. In similar fashion to the game’s opening goal, Petersen put the ball in and over goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan for her first professional goal and the late-game equalizer.


Match Notes:

  • Sunday’s match marked the team’s first game in 14 days and first at home since May 30, with the side defeating Kansas City 1-0.
  • Courtney Petersen’s 90th minute goal marked the first of her professional career. The University of Virginia product earned her first career assist just two games ago, earning the helper on Alex Morgan’s game-winner over Kansas City.
  • Petersen’s goal marked the team’s latest goal since July 14, 2019, also an equalizer and also a first professional goal, when Erin Greening knotted things up at 3-3 on the road in Portland.
  • Marta picked up her second assist in as many games Sunday night, previously setting up Taylor Kornieck on June 6 at Washington, who also scored her first professional goal and the team’s equalizer on the night.
  • Orlando remains atop the NWSL standings, now tied with Portland Thorns FC, who also sit at 12 points with a 4-2-0 record.
  • On Sunday evening, the Pride celebrated the five-year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub tragedy and honored the victims and survivors with a number of tributes and integrations throughout the match. The team also wore rainbow numbers on their Ad Astra kits in celebration of Pride Month.


Next Match: The Pride will continue its three-match week, the second of such this year, next heading on the road to face Kansas City at Legends Field for the first time on Wednesday, June 23. That midweek game will kickoff in the afternoon at 2 p.m. ET with streaming available on Paramount+.

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PREVIEW: Orlando Pride Close Out Two-Game Home Stint Against Kansas City



ORLANDO, Fla. – The Orlando Pride (2-0-1, 7 points) look to earn their fourth-consecutive result to start the regular season, set to host Kansas City (0-1-2, 2 points) on Sunday, May 30. Kickoff for the match, presented by OUC, is set for 6 p.m. ET at Exploria Stadium.

The match will be available to stream on Paramount+, with international viewers able to tune in on Twitch. Tickets for Sunday’s match are available at or by calling (855) ORL-CITY. The fixture will serve as the Pride’s Mission Planet Earth match and the first chance for fans to purchase the Mission Planet Earth patch, coinciding with the Club’s recently announced sustainability efforts.

“There’s great energy, great commitment and the group has been wonderful. We have to take that energy into the next bout of games. It’s going to be a difficult match. [Kansas City] want to be in ball possession, they want to exploit you, they want to open up the width of the field,” Head Coach Marc Skinner said. “They’ve got some very good players and some standouts in midfield, so I think they’ll be expansive and want to dominate the ball to work on their identity, but it just depends on how they come out. It will be an interesting mix, but what we have to do is try and take control as much as we can, dictate the game as much as we can to them.”

The match will mark the first between the Pride and Kansas City in NWSL play, serving as the second match for Orlando against an expansion side across all competitions this season, after opening up Challenge Cup play at Racing Louisville on May 10.

The Pride come into the contest following a 2-1 victory over Portland Thorns FC on Wednesday night at Exploria Stadium, with Alex Morgan opening the scoring in the 22nd minute, getting on the end of a ball from Taylor Kornieck. Simone Charley would answer for the visitors just before the halftime break, but Sydney Leroux countered seconds into the second half, with a strong individual effort to net the eventual game-winner in the 46th minute.

Morgan leads the NWSL with three finishes in as many matches to start the season, marking her best start to a campaign in Orlando, while Leroux follows with two. Kornieck sits tied for the league-lead in assists with Chicago Red Stars forward Mallory Pugh and Portland Thorns attacker Morgan Weaver, all with two in 2021.

Kansas City comes to Orlando looking to bounce back from a 2-0 loss at the hands of the Chicago Red Stars on Wednesday. The visitors from Chicago tallied both their finishes in the second half of play, first with Kealia Watt in the 67th minute before Makenzy Doniak doubled the advantage three minutes later.

Taylor Leach and Amy Rodriguez have both found the back of the net for Kansas City this season, with Rodriguez serving as the club’s leader across all competitions with three goals total including Challenge Cup play.

Following Sunday’s contest, the Pride will head back out on the road to face the Washington Spirit at Audi Field on Sunday, June 6 in a 2 p.m. ET. kickoff.

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Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride Defender Toni Pressley Diagnosed with Breast Cancer



Toni Pressley launches the ball into the net for her very first goal with the Orlando Pride against FC Kansas City at Orlando City Stadium July 15, 2017. Photo: Mark Thor/Orlando City SC.

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – Source: Orlando Pride // Orlando Pride defender Toni Pressley has been diagnosed with breast cancer and has begun treatment, the Club announced today. Pressley underwent surgery on Friday morning at Orlando Health and has been placed on the 45-Day Disabled List.

“We can’t imagine what Toni is going through. On behalf of everyone at the Club, I would like to extend our unconditional support to Toni, her family and the members of our Orlando Pride family throughout the entirety of the treatment process,” said Orlando Pride General Manager Erik Ustruck. “Toni’s health and well-being is, of course, our biggest priority. We are happy to be able to provide her with the full backing of the Club, the NWSL and our partners at Orlando Health.”

“Although a cancer diagnosis of any kind can be extremely difficult, her family at Orlando Health is going to battle this disease with Toni every step of the way,” said Daryl Osbahr, M.D., team doctor for Orlando Pride and chief of sports medicine for Orlando Health. “Toni is in great hands with the experts at the Breast Care Center at Orlando Health UF Health Cancer Center and we are working in tandem with her oncologists to ensure she has everything she needs to fight this disease and to return her to playing the sport that she loves as safely and quickly as possible.”

A native of Melbourne, Fla., Pressley joined the Pride in the Club’s inaugural season after being selected with the No. 8 pick in the 2015 NWSL Expansion Draft. Since then, the Florida State product has made 52 appearances for Orlando, including nine this season. Pressley, 29, has three NWSL goals to her name, with one goal during the 2019 campaign.

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