The Orlando Pride have acquired former Arizona State and Portland Thorns defender McKenzie Berryhill off waivers from the Portland Thorns. Berryhill is a versatile defender that has experience playing both fullback positions, which could help bolster the Pride’s back line, which lacks depth in the wake of Steph Catley’s season-ending disabled list.
Berryhill comes to Orlando having spent the season in Portland, appearing in five games for the Thorns and starting two of them. She has experience playing all four positions on the back line, which will come in handy through the last few games of the Pride's season and possibly into next year.
Prior to being drafted in the third round by the Thorns, Berryhill experienced a successful career at Arizona State, earning First-Team All-Pac-12 and First-Team NSCAA Pacific All-Regional honors in 2014. That same year, she participated in the U.S. Under-23 Women's National Team training camp.
"McKenzie was a player that we looked closely at in the draft this year, and she came into serious consideration, but was selected by Portland," Pride Head Coach Tom Sermanni said in a club press release. "We see her potential and really like her defensive qualities from the footage we've watched. She's a pure defender: dominant and tough. These remaining games are an opportunity for us to have a closer look at her in our environment and hopefully make her part of our club for the future."
With Catley out, as well as Laura Alleway's recent quad injury, Berryhill comes in at a much-needed time for the Pride as they try to finish out the season strong. Without many of their international players, the team's defense let up 10 goals since mid-July and found it a struggle to stay consistent. Come next year, the Pride will be more prepared for the multitude of international call-ups that will come throughout the season.
Here is Berryhill's draft day interview, included after comments from Thorns Head Coach Mark Parsons: