In their final match of the NWSL Challenge Cup, the Orlando Pride battled the North Carolina Courage to a scoreless draw on Saturday night at WakeMed Soccer Park.
Needing a two-goal win to get them to the cup final, the Pride could not break through the Courage defense, coming close a number of times. Alternatively, the Pride defense came up big on a number of occasions to help keep the team’s second consecutive clean sheet.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the the defensive performance from the team tonight,” Head Coach Marc Skinner said in his postgame press conference. “Yes we needed to win to progress, but I think the progression that we’re showing as a group over these four games is exactly what we wanted. To take a team that openly admits they want to shoot out against teams and score goals, to keep a second clean sheet is just a wonderful kind of moment for us.”
Orlando had a very early chance thanks to a Taylor Kornieck free kick, that clanged off the crossbar in the third minute of the match.
On the opposite end of the pitch, Kornieck came up with two massive stops to keep the game scoreless in the 33rd mintute.
Those two chances on either end were the best for either side before the first half whistle blew. The second half saw more of the Courage holding possession and Orlando absorbing pressure, but there were a few times that the Pride broke through and almost scored.
In the 71st minute, Sydney Leroux managed to find Alex Morgan with a cross across goal, but as Morgan shot it, it was blocked off the line by former Pride defender Carson Pickett.
The Pride begin their NWSL regular season on Sunday, May 16 as they host the Washington Spirit at Exploria Stadium. Kickoff for the match is set for 6 p.m.
Here’s how the Pride lined up
Orlando Pride XI: Ashlyn Harris; Ali Riley, Phoebe McClernon, Toni Pressley, Gunnhildur Jónsdóttir; Jade Moore (Courtney Petersen, 76′), Marisa Viggiano (Meggie Dougherty Howard, 88′), Marta; Taylor Kornieck, Alex Morgan, Sydney Leroux (Crystal Thomas, 82′),
Substitutes: Erin McLeod, Carrie Lawrence, Konya Plummer, Ally Haran, Abi Kim, Chelsee Washington.
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