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Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride vs. Reign FC: Final Score 2-2 as Marta Equalizes Late



Marta’s late goal lifted the Orlando Pride (4-16-4, 16 points) to a 2-2 draw in the 2019 NWSL season finale against Reign FC (10-6-8, 38 points) in front of 8,103 fans at Exploria Stadium. Rachel Hill put the Pride up first, then the Reign scored two unanswered to take the lead before halftime. Marta scored a potential Goal of the Week in the dying minutes to allow the Pride to come away with a point.

“I'm really proud of them tonight,” Orlando Pride Head Coach Marc Skinner said after the game. “We were woeful against Washington. Tonight we were aggressive, we were front foot. We conceded two goals which we were not happy with, of course. But I think for the first time the stats represent what I felt the game was like.

“Tonight absolutely belongs to Toni [Pressley] — the amazing woman that she is — and I’m so glad that the girls fought hard for her, and anyone else that has suffered or will suffer from breast cancer. I think that it is tremendous that we have super women in terms that they have the ability to face that, come back, and aggressively take on the challenge. I haven’t got the words to express just how I feel about Toni because she’s Wonder Woman.”

It was Breast Cancer Awareness Night, and before the match, a group of survivors made a pink ribbon at the center of the field. There was a video on the jumbotron of the Pride players talking about their reactions to Pressley’s diagnosis.

“Of course it meant a lot to all of us [having Pressley back],” Marta said through an interpreter. “She went through this difficult time and she overcame everything so strong. And that was a great example to all of us — showing how strong she is and how she was determined and never gave up through all this. So whenever she came in I was super happy and very emotional because it just shows to all of us overcoming a challenge. So it was a great example to all of us working hard, determination, and being strong.”

Skinner made several changes to his starting XI. He changed the back line for the fourth straight match, giving Julie King her first action since her red card in her Pride debut. Claire Emslie started up top, but she only lasted 43 minutes before a head injury forced out of her game. She finished with a team-high three chances created and an assist.

The Pride started the game out playing some of the best soccer that they’ve shown all year. Orlando had eight shots (five on target) before the half-hour mark. Camila had three of those shots, all on target.

This led to the first goal, 24 minutes in. Marta found Emslie up top. The Scot used one touch to feed Hill behind the defense. Hill dribbled around Reign goalkeeper Casey Murphy and passed the ball into the back of the net. 

The lead lasted just 10 minutes. In the 34th minute, Kristen Edmonds had the ball inside Orlando’s final third. Megan Rapinoe was chasing her down, and Edmonds passed back to Ashlyn Harris. With a Reign attacker running down at her, Harris barely got her foot on it. The ball fell to former Pride fullback Steph Catley, who sent in a perfect cross to Darian Jenkins. Jenkins volleyed it past Harris, and the game was tied at one.

The visitors doubled their lead in the 41st minute. From the left wing, Rumi Utsugi sent a fantastic ball forward. Jodie Taylor used speed to run by Alanna Kennedy, then used some nifty footwork to create space, and powered the ball into the back of the net.

Marta nearly tied the game in first-half stoppage time. She got the ball and dribbled around a hopeful defender, but shot it directly into Murphy’s chest.

The Reign took the 2-1 lead into halftime. Orlando was the better team for the majority of the half, but the visitors took the momentum after scoring their first goal and took the lead. Orlando took nine shots in the first half, and six found the target. The Reign only had five shots, four shots on goal. Possession was fairly even with Orlando holding 49%. The Pride got into great positions, but the shots were poor and right at Murphy, who finished with five saves.  

“I think it’s great to end on a positive and get a draw from the game,” said Pressley. “I think the girls did so well tonight. From the moment the first whistle blew, so exciting to watch. Rachel’s goal was unbelievable and then to finish with Marta’s was so fantastic and it’s amazing to be back out there.”

The second half had significantly less action. Both teams had chances, but they were mostly snuffed out before reaching dangerous areas.

Pressley came into the match in the 72nd minute. It was her first game action since being diagnosed with breast cancer. The center back got a standing ovation as she came on, and Harris gave the captain’s armband to her.

“It was just so surreal,” Pressley said about getting the captain’s armband. “[Harris] is someone I love dearly and have so much respect for. She's such a great leader and for her to hand that over to me in that moment was so special and it is something that I will never forget.

“It felt amazing to have everyone be so supportive and be behind me and just give me that extra push to get on that field. I think that’s a testament to how wonderful our fans our. They stick it out with us every single game and just to have them it means the world.”

Minutes after Pressley came on, Pickett sent in a cross. Pressley nearly got on the end of it, on what would have been too perfect of a moment.

In the 86th minute, Marta scored a goal for the highlight reel. Off a corner, the ball slowly rolled to the top of the box. Marta sized up the goal, wound up, a powered the ball into the back of the net to level the game at two.

“I really thought, ‘Finally it went it!’ after so many chances,” said Marta. “For everything we did today, everything we tried, all the chances, and also for the cause, I really think we should have won.”

In the dying minutes of the game it looked like Marta would get a brace. She took a shot from distance and Murphy came up with yet another huge save to deny the Brazilian.

Orlando finished the match with the most shots and shots on target all season. The Pride had more shots (21-10), shots on target (10-7), and possession (52%). Marta led everyone in shots with nine, and Camila put all four of her shots on target.

Orlando finished the season in last place. Skinner has already been looking forward to next season and said that he has identified players that he wants to bring in — both in the NWSL and abroad. It will be a point of emphasis to bring in experienced players that are not on their national teams. With the Olympics next year, Skinner does not want to be in the same situation where he loses half the team during international games.



Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride Raising Expections in Record-Breaking Start

The Orlando Pride’s culture has propelled the team to a strong start and potentially more in 2024.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

In front of more than 7,500 fans Saturday night, the Orlando Pride defeated expansion side Bay FC 1-0 and extended their win streak to a club-record six victories. It was the Pride’s most attended home game of the season and they are tied with the Kansas City Current on points at the top of the table. With a third of the season behind them, the Pride have six wins, three draws, and no losses, and soccer fans in the City Beautiful are energized. While Orlando will almost certainly lose a match at some point this season, the club’s identity and togetherness laid the foundation for this undefeated start and raised the bar for the rest of the campaign.

There may be some optimistic Pride fans who predicted Orlando would be tied for first place after nine matches, but most would admit that this season is going better than anticipated. With the benefit of hindsight however, Orlando’s current form can be seen as a continuation of the progress made by the club under Head Coach Seb Hines and General Manager Haley Carter. This duo has led the way in establishing a culture focused on player wellbeing and inclusion off the pitch, as well as grit and flexibility on it.

The environment created by the staff can have a big impact on the locker room and the outcomes of matches. Nothing shows this team’s togetherness clearer than the “L” goal celebration they have flashed time and again for midfielder Luana following her diagnosis with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It is evident from watching the Pride play as a team, pick each other up, and celebrate together after goals and victories that they are doing it for each other. 

“Having the buy-in from everyone, it doesn’t just take myself, it takes the whole group, and it starts from the top, but I think the most important thing is we wanted to create a culture where everyone felt they had an opportunity to come in and make a difference,” Hines said in the preseason. “Making the players feel valued is really important for us and I think that can be a recipe for success.”

After a season where the Pride barely missed out on the playoffs, a credible target for the club going into 2024 would have been just to reach the postseason. However, one word describes Orlando’s performances through nine matches: incredible. After being overlooked by the larger soccer audience the last two off-seasons, expectations should be changing rapidly for NWSL fans, the media, and opposing clubs. Perceptions can be slow to change though, and there are still a large number of doubters outside of the state of Florida.

“Coming out of last season [the players] have a bit of a chip on their shoulder and they feel like they have something to prove” said Carter several weeks ago. “Everyone’s goal is to make the playoffs and ultimately to win an NWSL championship.”

Carter also called winning a title a lofty goal that needs to be taken one game at a time.

While there are many matches left to be played, the Pride are showing they belong on the list of contenders for an NWSL championship. At the start of the season, conventional wisdom would have had the 2023 NWSL Shield winners, the San Diego Wave, and the 2023 NWSL champion, NJ/NY Gotham FC, as favorites for trophies this year, along with perennial competitors like the Portland Thorns and North Carolina Courage. Instead, the top three teams in the standings are the Current, Pride, and Washington Spirit. 

The only real knock against Orlando’s table-topping credentials is the relative ease of the schedule played to date. So far, six of the team’s nine matches have been at home, and six matches have come against teams currently in the bottom half of the standings. Regardless, this easier start may have been a blessing, as it allowed the Pride to build positive momentum from the get-go. 

The eye-test says that Orlando’s record is not a fluke. The Pride have defended exceptionally well, and the recent addition of Barbra Banda, who has four goals, two assists, and two penalties drawn in four starts, has unlocked a new level in the attack. While a loss will inevitably come, the Pride have shown that they will be competitive in every match remaining.

The biggest risk to the Pride continuing their electric form is injuries, something to which no team is immune. Season-ending injuries have already reduced the team’s depth, as Megan Montefusco, Simone Charley, and Luana won’t feature again in 2024. Emily Sams, Morgan Gautrat, and the Brazilian trio of Rafaelle, Adriana, and Marta have also missed time but since returned to the lineup. Angelina, another Brazilian and a standout performer in the early goings of the season, recently underwent an arthroscopic knee scope and is going to be evaluated week to week. Her fellow midfielders will have to play at their best to minimize the impact of her absence, and the team will hope for fewer injuries the rest of the year.

To keep their form going strong, the Orlando Pride need continued contributions from each part of the organization, including the players, the staff, and even the fanbase. First, the players need to continue to build their on-field chemistry as the season progresses until they instinctively know where to pass, when to make a run, and when to press as a team. This team has the potential to be even better once the new players and experienced players alike have spent more time together.

Regarding the staff, Carter’s job is to never be fully content with the roster as it is. As spring turns to summer, she will likely keep an eye on the contract situations of the top talents around Europe and other leagues that follow the traditional soccer calendar. The team may be able to add more depth in midfield or extra goal-scoring on the wings if the right player is available. Lastly, the fans need to continue to show up for the Pride and bring their friends and family to fill Inter&Co Stadium. As more folks around Orlando take notice of the Pride, the club should be able to create a formidable advantage at home.

Before the season, Carter said the players, “know that the expectations and the bar has been raised coming out of last season, and they’re ready to live up to those expectations.” Proving Carter right, Orlando has already set several club records to start 2024, including its longest win streak in club history.

Despite the exciting start, everyone in the organization knows that awards aren’t won in May. This team has set a new standard for itself and the challenge now is to keep pushing for new heights.

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Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride Defensive Success is a Team Effort

The Pride have been one of the top defensive teams in the NWSL and everyone is involved.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

The Orlando Pride are off to their best start in team history with a six-game winning streak and nine-game unbeaten run to begin the 2024 NWSL season. Much has been made of the development of second-year attacker Summer Yates and the arrival of Barbra Banda, but the team’s strength has been its defense.

During the current six-game winning streak, four of the games have been shutouts, including the last two games. It’s been necessary in those contests, because the team has won each of those four games 1-0. Much of that success can be credited to the back line, primarily consisting of Kerry Abello, Kylie Strom, Rafaelle, and Emily Sams. While the credit will largely go to the defenders, keeping the opposition off of the scoresheet is a team effort.

“I think when you say defense, you talk about the whole team, because the work that everyone is doing to keep the clean sheet is unbelievable,” Head Coach Seb Hines said after the 1-0 win over Bay FC Saturday night. “You know, it starts from the front and having the structure and the organization from the front and reading those triggers, and obviously you talk about midfield and then the back line and goalkeeper. You know, it’s a real togetherness to keep the ball out of the net.”

As Hines said, the defensive effort begins up front. The Pride have been using a high press on the opposing back line to put them under pressure as soon as they lose possession of the ball. That strategy has resulted in several turnovers over the past few weeks and created chances for the Pride.

Additionally, the speed in their Pride’s attack is unrivaled by other NWSL sides. The typical attacking midfield includes Julie Doyle and Adriana, two players that possess tremendous speed and a willingness to attack opposing defenses. Hines also recently made a tactical change that proved successful. Usually deploying a 4-2-3-1 formation, we’ve seen a 4-4-2 at times with Banda and Ally Watt — arguably the fastest player in the league — as the striking pair. The duo’s speed has enabled the Pride to quickly counterattack. As a result, opposing teams have to be careful with how many players they send forward.

“Our forwards work so hard, our midfielders work so hard to put some pressure on, make it predictable, and make it easy for us to read the play and step in,” Strom said about how the back line benefits from the pressure. “So it’s a team effort and it feels good.”

As Strom states, the pressure the forwards and midfielders provide, as well as the transitional threat, makes the job of defending much easier on the back line. They’re less likely to deal with opposing counterattacks. But the back line has stood strong when the opposition has gotten into positive positions in the final third. In the same way the attackers assist the defenders, the strength of the back line makes it easier for the attacking players.

“Our back line has also been phenomenal helping us not conceding, so then we are able with our players, Marta, Summer, everyone, to be able to defend and help,” Adriana said about the team effort. “And also us, in the attacking side, be able to go fast and work on transition. So we can also help the team that way.”

Hines said everyone buying into the system and their specific role is another reason why the team has been so solid defensively. When the young head coach took over in 2022, it was obvious the players bought into his style of coaching. They would frequently repeat his teachings, something rarely seen under previous coaches. There have been multiple changes to the squad since then, but the newer arrivals still buy into the team-wide effort taught by the former center back.

“Everyone has a responsibility out of possession and you can see that the work ethic and the attitude and the desire to put teams under pressure and win the ball and then you know, again, being threatening in transition if we win it. Can we have a mindset of going to the other side and being threatening in goal scoring opportunities,” Hines said about his team’s mentality. “So I can’t just pinpoint on the back line, because they are doing a great job, but it’s the whole team. Everyone’s doing their role.”

Most of the focus is on the team’s current form because of the Pride’s success, which has pushed them to the top of the NWSL standings. But they’ve been successful in limiting scoring opportunities all season. As we near the midpoint of the season, the Pride have only conceded seven goals in nine games. That’s second in the league behind San Diego Wave FC, which has conceded six goals. However, the Wave have only scored seven goals and the Pride have netted 15. Their goal difference of +8 is also second in the league to the Kansas City Current (+9). Unsurprisingly, the Pride and Current are currently battling for the top spot in the NWSL standings.

As the season continues, the Pride’s defensive efforts will be crucial to their success. The team has been much better this year in putting shots on target. But you can’t always depend on goals to carry a team through. The Pride had far more shots (18-6) and shots on target (18-4) Saturday night, but Bay FC goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland had a career day with nine saves. The defending keeps the team in games and enables Orlando to win in different ways.

The Pride’s attack has been unpredictable this season. After netting two in the first game against Racing Louisville FC, they scored a single goal in each of their subsequent four games. In back-to-back wins over the Washington Spirit and North Carolina Courage, the Pride scored seven goals, outscoring the first five games combined. But the two most recent wins have been 1-0 nail biters.

“I think it allows us to be somewhat unpredictable,” Hines said. “I think, going back to the North Carolina game, it was very much a transition type of game. Being defensively solid to then transition and, whether it’s half the field or full field transition, we always feel like we can be threatening in the attack. It’s a great mix of being adaptable to what the game gives you.”

What has been predictable is the team-wide defensive effort. In addition to the four clean sheets, the Pride have only conceded once in three other games. The only two times they’ve conceded multiple goals were the 2-2 draw against Louisville and the 3-2 win over the Spirit. And the Spirit only scored twice because of the ball slipping through the hands of goalkeeper Anna Moorhouse on a relatively innocuous shot.

The Pride currently sit atop the NWSL standings with 21 points from their first nine games. After narrowly missing out on the playoffs in 2023, they could be contenders for the NWSL shield this season, which would be the team’s first trophy. If they continue to play as well defensively as they have so far, that result is a legitimate possibility.

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Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride vs. Bay FC: Final Score 1-0 as Pride Win Sixth Straight

Adriana’s penalty conversion lifts the Pride to their sixth straight win and ninth straight result.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

The Orlando Pride (6-0-3, 21 points) won their sixth straight game and claimed their ninth straight result with a 1-0 home win over NWSL newcomers Bay FC (2-7-0, 6 points). Adriana’s 32nd-minute penalty conversion was the only scoring in the game as the Pride continue their league-leading run.

Pride Head Coach Seb Hines made two changes to the team that beat Racing Louisville 1-0 Sunday night. Morgan Gautrat and Adriana re-entered the starting lineup after returning from injury and coming off the bench last weekend. They replaced Ally Lemos and Ally Watt.

The back line in front of goalkeeper Anna Moorhouse was Kerry Abello, Kylie Strom, Rafaelle, and Emily Sams. Morgan Gautrat and Haley McCutcheon were the defensive midfielders behind Julie Doyle, Adriana, and Summer Yates with Barbra Banda up top.

Despite the close scoreline, the Pride dominated this game from start to finish. Opportunities from the visitors were few and far between. While Moorhouse wasn’t challenged, Bay FC goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland had to make several key saves and finished with nine on the night.

The Pride had the first decent attack of the game in the second minute through Banda down the right. The Zambian beat her defender and sent a low cross into the middle, but only one Pride player was in the Bay FC 18, and nobody was able to get on the end of it.

Seconds later, Abello made a run to the end line and her cross was blocked out by Savy King. The ensuing set piece ended up with McCutcheon, who shot from just outside of the box, but Scarlett Camberos got in front to block it.

Banda made a run into the box from the left side in the fifth minute and was looking for Adriana near the penalty spot, but her pass was behind the attacker.

In the 15th minute, Doyle sent a cross to the top of the six-yard box, looking for Banda. Unfortunately, it was too far in front of the striker, enabling Rowland to reach it first. Banda slammed into the Bay FC goalkeeper and was called for a foul.

Deyna Castellanos recorded Bay FC’s first chance of the game and it was an ambitious one. Far from the Pride box, the midfielder attempted to beat Moorhouse over the top. However, the ball landed in her arms instead for an easy save.

The visitors had another chance in the 20th minute when Yates put a shoulder to Tess Boade and Sams finished her off with another shoulder, resulting in a free kick. The set piece was lifted into the box, but sailed over everyone and out of play.

Four minutes later, Bay FC created its best shot of the night to that point when King sent a low ball to the top of the box. It was behind Asisat Oshoala, but went directly to Racheal Kundananji. The Zambian international’s shot was right at Moorhouse, who made the easy catch.

The Pride nearly took the lead in the 28th minute when Doyle made a good run to the back post and Abello played a great ball across. However, a Bay FC foot got to it before the Pride midfielder, tapping it just beyond her reach.

The Pride maintained possession, resulting in Banda entering the box from the left side. Castellanos challenged the striker from behind, resulting in Banda going to the ground. Referee Danielle Chesky immediately pointed to the spot, awarding the Pride a penalty. Banda was down for a while after the foul and required some medical attention, but eventually got up and was able to continue.

With Banda off the field, Adriana stepped up to take the spot kick. Rowland guessed the right way, but it was a terrific penalty by the Brazilian, who put it into the corner to give the Pride a 1-0 lead.

“Well, usually when I get the ball, I just focus on concentrating for the PK. Just focusing on the ball hitting the net and me scoring that goal,” Adriana said. “So I was just thinking about that goal and to be able to score and help our team.”

Abello nearly scored an accidental goal in the 36th minute when she sent a poor cross in from the left. The ball curved towards goal and hit the crossbar, going beyond everyone in the box and enabling Bay FC to clear.

In the 37th minute, Banda was sent forward by Yates and dribbled the ball behind the Bay FC back line and into the box. Kayla Sharples did well to keep up with the speedy attacker, putting her body on her. Banda attempted to tap the ball around Rowland, but the goalkeeper was able to make the stop.

A minute later, it was Banda again making a long run into the Bay FC box. She attempted to reach the end line and send in a cross, but Emily Menges got a foot in to knock it out of play. The ensuing corner kick was headed out to Abello, who sent her shot well wide of the target.

Banda had another chance in the 45th minute when she received a short pass from Adriana. The striker attempted a long shot that was on target, but Rowland did well to tip it over the crossbar. The ensuing corner kick was headed out to Abello at the top of the box. This time, the defender used the outside of her left foot in an attempt to send it inside the post. It was also on target, but Rowland got down to tip it wide.

The Pride had a good chance in stoppage time when Abello’s initial cross was blocked, but she won it right back. The defender sent a second ball in for Gautrat outside of the six, but it was a bit behind the midfielder. As a result, she couldn’t get enough on it to challenge Rowland. That was the last chance by either team as the Pride entered halftime leading Bay FC 1-0.

The Pride dominated the first half statistically with more possession (60%-40%), shots (17-2), shots on target (12-2), corner kicks (8-0), and crosses (17-2), and better passing accuracy (84%-82%). However, Rowland had a strong first half with six saves, and some excellent ones to keep her team in the game.

Hines made one halftime substitution, replacing Doyle with Marta. It was Marta’s first appearance for the Pride since April 19, after missing the previous three games with an injury.

The Pride got the first good chance of the second half in the 50th minute when quick passing by McCutcheon and Adriana saw the Brazilian send Banda down the right. The striker was looking for Yates in the box, but the ball was a little behind the midfielder. She got her head to it, but couldn’t get a strong attempt on goal, enabling Rowland to make the stop.

In the 57th minute, Kunananji tried to make something happen for the visitors on her own. She attempted to dribble through several Pride players, but the ball was eventually cleared.

The Pride darted the other way and created a chance of their own. Banda initially tried to get behind the Bay FC defense, but her attack was halted. She found Adriana on her right, who tried a shot to the near post, but Rowland had it well covered for her seventh save of the night.

Hines made his second change and used his first substitution window in the 60th minute. After starting the last five games, Watt was on the bench for this one. The Pride had dominated chances and possession but were looking for a second goal, so Watt replaced a defensive-minded player in Gautrat.

Rowland had been sure-handed all game, but had a brief lapse in the 62nd minute on a Pride corner kick. The set piece by Yates was too close to the goalkeeper and she looked to have it covered, but the ball got through her hands. Fortunately for her, King was at the back post and headed the ball away before anyone in purple could get to it.

As the game entered the final 20 minutes, Bay FC started to create some opportunities. The visitors weren’t getting many shots off, and the ones they took weren’t threatening Moorhouse much. However, they began to push forward, holding more possession in the final third. Looking to see out the game and maintain the 1-0 lead, Hines made a pair of changes in the 74th minute. Defenders Bri Martinez and Cori Dyke came in for attackers Adriana and Yates.

In the 77th minute, the Pride created a pair of chances when Abello entered the box. Her shot was blocked, but it went back to Dyke at the top of the 18. The substitute’s second touch was a shot that was deflected out for a corner kick. The ensuing set piece by Marta didn’t cause any trouble for the visitors as they cleared the danger.

Marta caused some oohs and ahhs from the crowd in the 84th minute. McCutcheon won possession near midfield and laid it off for the captain. The Brazilian spun on the ball to split her defenders and sent Banda forward. The striker took a shot from distance, but it didn’t create much trouble for Rowland, who easily collected it.

A minute later, Marta sent Banda forward again. While the striker worked on trying to beat Menges, Sharples caught up with the play. Banda caused Menges to twist and turn, but Sharples slid in to block the shot out of play.

The Pride made their final change in the 89th minute. After her first start without a goal and failing to convert for the first time in four games, the striker was replaced by Ally Lemos. Again, it was a defensive change as the team looked to see out the result.

The only chance for either team in second-half injury time came five minutes in when Watt carried the ball to the top of the Bay FC box. She attempted a low shot towards the far post, but Rowland got down to make the save.

The Pride absolutely dominated this game with more possession (52%-48%), shots (25-6), shots on target (18-4), corner kicks (12-2), and crosses (31-12), and better passing accuracy (83%-81%). If not for some impressive goalkeeping by Rowland, the final score would likely have been more lopsided. However, Adriana’s penalty lifted the hosts to the win.

“Bay FC caused us a lot of problems in the second half,” Hines said about the game. “They started to add more numbers into their attack. The defenders did a terrific job overall of not really allowing Bay FC to create a lot of goal-scoring opportunities. But yeah, it’s a full team effort. And, you know, it’s nice to come away with another 1-0 win and three points.”

“We didn’t really know how they were going to come out. So we were kind of prepared for anything. They’ve pressed in certain games and they’ve sat back in certain games,” Strom added about the performance. “So they sat back a bit. I think we probably could have been a little more patient in our attack, but we found ways to break them.”

There are pros and cons to the fact that the Pride have won back-to-back games 1-0. On the one hand, they have two straight clean sheets and four in their last six games. It’s something that Hines and Strom say has been a team effort.

“It starts from the front and having the structure and the organization from the front and reading those triggers,” Hines said about the defensive effort. “And obviously, you talk about the midfield and then the back line and goalkeeper. You know, it’s a real togetherness to keep the ball out of the net,”

“We take so much pride in our defending and, you know, when we get these clean sheets, it’s not just the back line or the goalkeeper, it’s every single player,” Strom added. “Our forwards work so hard. Our midfielders work so hard to put some pressure on, make it predictable and make it easy for us to read the play and step in. So it’s a team effort and it feels good. That’s the main emphasis for us.”

While the recent defensive performances have been excellent, they’ve only scored a goal in each of their last two games.

“It may come down to a few (better decisions), execution in the final third, but we’re getting in the right areas,” Hines said about the lack of scoring. “We’re getting into good, positive positions. And I’d have more concern if we weren’t doing that, rather than not getting in those positions and not finding the back of the net. Listen, the goalkeeper played well today and could arguably be the player of the match. But, you know, we’ll reflect and we’ll look back and we’ll continue to work on those things.”

Despite the lack of offensive production, the Pride have now won six straight games and extended their unbeaten run to nine games to start the season. The winning streak is the longest in club history and the unbeaten run ties the team record set in 2017.

The Pride will look to continue their impressive form next Sunday when they travel to the west coast to take on Seattle Reign FC in Washington.

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