This was Toni Pressley’s third season with the Pride. Entering last year, she had made some news with her switch to veganism, and had upped her fitness regimen. She was coming off a tough 2016 season and made great strides, finishing last season a bit above average with her play, earning a rating of 5.5 for her 2017 campaign.
It’s difficult to say whether she continued to improve, given the amount of minutes she played, and how the team as a whole did this year. I certainly never doubted her desire to play, though she could have performed better.
Pressley made 11 appearances in 2018, 10 of them starts (down from 18 and 13 last year, respectively), and played a total of 813 minutes. In games she started, she was subbed off seven times. Statistically, she had 28 clearances and four blocks, with seven interceptions. She had a 78.6% tackle success, a 61.8% duel success rate, and a very good 68.6% aerial duel success rate. At 5-foot-11, one would certainly hope she’d be good in the air. Pressley had of passing rate of 67.4% (tied with Poliana for the worst on the defense) on 383 total passes, and a 32.4% long pass rate. On offense she took nine shots with two on target, scoring one goal with no assists. Pressley committed eight fouls while drawing only six fouls. She received one yellow card, and no red cards.
Pressley’s best game was a 1-1 draw against the Seattle Reign on June 21, 2018. It wasn’t hard to pick this game, as it was the her only goal of the season, and at the time it helped keep the Pride in the playoff hunt. Pressley may have only played for 59 minutes, but if you play decent defense and score the only goal for your team in a match, that’s all that matters. Her performance was good enough to win Player of the Match from The Mane Land.
— Orlando Pride (@ORLPride) July 21, 2018
Final 2018 Grade
The Mane Land staff gave Pressley a 4.5 for the 2018 season. That grade is slightly below her average throughout the season, where she received a low of 4.5, a high of 6.5, and an average of 5.5. Pressley played on both the defensive line and as a defensive midfielder. Pressley didn’t get as much playing time as others, but given that Tom Sermanni was looking for answers in the latter part of the season, this is not too surprising. Consensus from the staff was that though Pressley has upside thanks to her height, and a powerful leg, but she didn’t use those to as great an effect as was expected, especially coming off a promising 2017 season.
Pressley was offered a new contract by the club following the 2018 season. However, so were the six others out of contract. At 28 years old, Pressley still has time to be a valuable contributor, especially given her upside. Given that 2019 is a World Cup year, and the teams are expected to be allowed more players than normal, I would expect Pressley to return. Of course that will all depend on what the new coach for the Pride decides.