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Orlando Pride vs. North Carolina Courage: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, Match Thread, and More

The Pride look to keep their Challenge Cup alive as they face the division-leading North Carolina Courage.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

Welcome to your match thread as the Orlando Pride (0-2-1, 1 point) face the North Carolina Courage (2-0-2, 4 points) at WakeMed Soccer Park in the 2023 NWSL Challenge Cup. This is the second and last time these two teams will face off in the Challenge Cup.

Here’s everything you need to know about tonight’s game.

History

The Pride and Courage have played 21 times since the Western New York Flash moved to North Carolina and became the Courage. The Pride are 4-12-5 in those games (4-10-1 in the NWSL regular season, 0-0-2 in the Fall Series, and 0-2-2 in the NWSL Challenge Cup).

The most recent meeting between the two teams came on June 17 in North Carolina and it was all Courage. Kerolin and Meredith Speck gave the hosts a 2-0 lead before a Haley McCutcheon own goal made it 3-0 to North Carolina.

The game prior to that was a Challenge Cup clash on April 19 at Exploria Stadium. The Pride took the lead after halftime when Summer Yates set up Ally Watt for the opening goal. But Denise O’Sullivan equalized in the ninth minute of second-half injury time, resulting in a 1-1 draw.

Prior to that game, they last played on Sept. 21, 2022 at Exploria Stadium. The Courage got off to a great start when Debinha scored in the second minute. The Brazilian then assisted Tess Boade in first-half injury time to double the lead, and later added another, dooming the Pride to a 3-0 defeat.

The previous 2022 meeting came on May 18 in North Carolina. The Pride got off to a great start in that game, with Sydney Leroux scoring early. Mikayla Cluff doubled the lead with her first professional goal. A late goal by Brianna Pinto got the Courage back within one, but it wasn’t enough as the Pride took the 2-1 win.

The Pride and Courage were placed in the same division for the 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup, so the teams played twice before the regular season started. The first game was on March 26 in North Carolina. Merritt Mathias converted a penalty after Gunny Jonsdottir was called for a handball in the box, lifting the hosts to a 1-0 win. The return match in the tournament took place on April 16 in Orlando. The Courage got off to a fast start in this one, scoring three goals in the first nine minutes. Darian Jenkins netted a brace to make it 3-2, but a late Debinha goal put the game away and North Carolina won 4-2.

The teams played three times during the 2021 NWSL season. On May 22 in North Carolina, goals by Leroux and Alex Morgan gave the Pride a 2-0 lead late into the game. Jessica McDonald scored late to pull one back but the Pride held on for a 2-1 win. On July 4 in Orlando, Debinha and Havana Solaun goals helped the Courage take home a 2-0 win. The final game came on July 31 in North Carolina. Leroux opened the scoring but Brittany Ratcliffe equalized moments later and the teams drew 1-1.

The two teams were also matched up in the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup but they only played once in that tournament. Neither team was able to find the back of the net in that game in a scoreless draw.

Similar to the Challenge Cup, the teams were in the same group of the 2020 Fall Series, meeting twice. The first was on Sept. 19 in North Carolina and ended in a scoreless draw. The second was on Oct. 17 at Exploria Stadium. Led by a Debinha brace, the Courage went up 3-0. But the Pride came back with goals by Marisa Viggiano, Kristen Edmonds, and Ally Haran for an exciting 3-3 draw.

The Pride and Courage played three times during the 2019 season. The first game was on April 17 in North Carolina. The Courage took a 1-0 lead into halftime but scored four times in the second half to win 5-0. They played a second time on June 1 in Orlando. Again, it was a dominant performance by the Courage as the Pride fell 3-0. The final meeting that year was another thrashing by North Carolina. The Pride got a goal in that one but still fell 6-1.

The teams also met three times in 2018 but the results were much closer. On May 23 in Orlando, goals by Alanna Kennedy and Rachel Hill saw the Pride come back from a 3-1 deficit. But McDonald scored a winner in the 90th minute and the Courage won 4-3. The Pride went down by three goals in the final two games that season, but were unable to come back and fell 3-0 in both contests.

The 2017 season saw the teams meet for the first time. The Courage took the first game 3-1 on Apr. 29 in North Carolina. They played a second time two weeks later in Orlando when the Pride took the 3-1 win. The final meeting in 2017 came in the final game of the season on Sept. 30. The Pride took a 2-0 lead but the Courage came back to even it at 2-2. It looked headed for a draw until Kennedy netted a late winner, leading the Pride to a 3-2 win.

Overview

The NWSL is currently on hiatus during the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Most teams are playing two Challenge Cup games during the month-long break, but the Pride and Gotham are playing four times after their two previous Challenge Cup games were postponed due to Canadian wildfires and travel issues.

The Pride came into this period with just one point in the competition, claimed against this Courage team in the opening game. They had an opportunity to gain some ground last weekend when they hosted Gotham and took an early 1-0 lead from a set piece, but Gotham came storming back. A penalty before halftime and two goals in three minutes early in the second half saw the Pride fall, 3-1.

While the Pride could technically qualify for the Challenge Cup semifinals by winning their final three games, that’s highly unlikely, and they would need help. Meanwhile, tonight’s opponent is in a great position to get out of the group. North Carolina currently has eight points from four games, one point ahead of Gotham.

The Courage are missing six players to the World Cup, but it didn’t affect them in their last game, a 6-0 thumping of the Washington Spirit. The impressive performance last weekend included six goals from six different players. The team’s depth was on display in that game and will be again tonight.

The Pride have more of their regular starters than the Courage, with only two players who were with the team prior to the World Cup away on international duty. But that didn’t seem to help them Sunday night when they fell to a Gotham team with a longer availability list.

While the Pride were outplayed the last time these teams met, the main trouble came from Kerolin, who’s away with Brazil. As shown last weekend, the Courage are replacing her by committee, a plan that succeeded. Defensively, the Courage are missing starting goalkeeper Casey Murphy and right back Emily Fox, both of whom are with the U.S. Women’s National Team, but have the rest of their starting back line.

“In the last game (against North Carolina), I think we gave them too much respect,” Pride Head Coach Seb Hines said about tonight’s opponent. “We’re going to need to be fully committed to blocking shots. In their last game, they scored a lot of goals outside the box and that’s a scenario that we need to improve on in this game. They possess the ball well and they look to combine and use everyone and put defenders in difficult spots. We need to be fully committed to the press, but we need to stick to our identity and also be good in possession. It should be an exciting game. It’s two teams that want to play and want to possess the ball with an objective to score.”

After having multiple players out injured against Gotham, the Pride are healthy this week, only missing Carrie Lawrence (knee) due to injury. They’ll also play without Marta (Brazil), Adriana (Brazil), Rafaelle (Brazil), and Mariana Larroquette (Argentina), who are on international duty at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

The Courage are without four injured players tonight, including Emily Gray (knee), Estelle Johnson (lower leg), Clara Robbins (lower leg), and Meredith Speck (right knee). Emily Fox (USA), Mille Gejl (Denmark), Rikke Madsen (Denmark), Casey Murphy (USA), Kerolin (Brazil), and Denise O’Sullivan (Ireland) are participating in the World Cup.


Official Lineups

Orlando Pride (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Anna Moorhouse.

Defenders: Kylie Strom, Emily Madril, Megan Montefusco, Haley McCutcheon.

Defensive Midfielders: Jordyn Listro, Viviana Villacorta.

Midfielders: Kerry Abello, Erika Tymrak, Julie Doyle.

Forwards: Messiah Bright.

Bench: Carly Nelson, Caitlin Cosme, Amanda Allen, Ally Watt, Thais Reiss, Tori Hansen, Mikayla Cluff, Summer Yates, Celia.

North Carolina Courage (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Katelyn Rowland. 

Defenders: Kiki Pickett, Malia Berkely, Kaleigh Kurtz, Ryan Williams.

Defensive Midfielders: Brianna Pinto, Narumi Miura.

Midfielders: Brittany Ratcliffe, Frankie Tagliaferri, Tyler Lussi.

Forwards: Tess Boade.

Bench: Marisa Bova, Sydney Collins, Sarah Clark, Nikia Smith, Haleigh Stackpole, Victoria Pickett, Olivia Wingate, Haley Hopkins, Estelle Johnson.

Referees

REF: Greg Dopka.
AR1: Jeffrey Skinker.
AR2: Zeno Cho.
4TH: John Rush.
VAR: Laura Rodriguez.
AVAR: Joel McKell.


How to Watch

Match Time: 7 p.m.

Venue: WakeMed Soccer Park — Cary, NC.

TV: None.

Streaming: Paramount+(U.S.), NWSLsoccer.com (International).

Twitter: For rapid reaction and live updates, follow @SkoPurpSoccer and the Orlando Pride’s official Twitter feed (@ORLPride).


Enjoy the match. Go Pride!

Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride Summer Transfer Window: Notable Free Agents

A look at the Pride’s roster and which players could solidify Orlando’s title aspirations by joining this summer.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

The Orlando Pride are now 12 matches into the 2024 NWSL season, and they are performing at or near the highest levels seen in the club’s history. The Pride continue to pace the league, tied for first with the Kansas City Current, but continuous improvement is required to stay at the top. 

After the record-setting victory against the Portland Thorns, Marta summed up what it means to be top of the table, “we now look behind and see everyone running after us, so we just need to run [faster].”

The hard work of Orlando’s squad and coaching staff is showing on the field. Behind the scenes, Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter is closely monitoring the contract situations of the top players in Europe as many seasons abroad come to a close. On that front, Carter and staff have hit the ground running this summer by securing the signature of Grace Chanda, a highly-talented Zambian attacking midfielder meant to add new dimensions to the Pride in front of goal. Even after this signing, there may be room on the roster within the salary cap to add more talent to this squad.

Current Roster and Rules

The NWSL has three key limits on roster construction by which each team must abide. The first is the salary cap, which sits at $2.75 million for 2024, double the limit from the year prior. Unfortunately, NWSL salary details are not typically reported publicly. One salary that is known is that of Barbra Banda, who earns a $525,000 annual salary after she arrived on the second-largest transfer fee in league history. Despite her price tag, the increased cap space from 2023 should leave additional room to add more top players to the roster. 

The second rule is that each team was given seven international roster slots at the beginning of 2024. The Pride gained an additional slot in a trade with Utah Royals FC that included Carly Nelson, bringing their total to eight. Six of these slots are currently occupied by Luana, Amanda Allen, Barbra Banda, Grace Chanda, Evelina Duljan, and Sofia Manner, leaving the Pride with two slots remaining. 

Lastly, the Pride are allowed 26 players on their active roster, a category that excludes certain players such as those with a season-ending injury (SEI). Of the 30 players on Orlando’s roster, four — Luana, Simone Charley, Megan Montefusco, and Viviana Villacorta — are on the SEI list. In the case of Villacorta, club training videos posted to social media hint that Pride fans might not have to wait too long for her return to action. 

Regardless of the seemingly full roster today, Carter and staff do have levers at their disposal to create room in the squad. They may choose to loan out players in need of minutes or mutually agree to terminate the contracts of players not in the club’s current or long-term plans.

Available Free Agents and Potential Roles

Because the Pride are playing so well, it is especially tricky to find the right players to sign to add depth or upgrade a starting role. However, there are a few areas that the club could target. Listed below are several high-profile, out-of-contract players that fit these roles.

Laura Freigang – Forward

The Orlando Pride attack is currently performing at a high level, and Banda is a big reason why. Since her debut, she has scored, assisted, or drawn a penalty for 13 of the Pride’s last 15 goals. However, there has been a lack of production when Banda is not on the pitch, as Sean Rollins recently wrote. Adriana has typically been an attacking focal point for the Pride, but she has been hampered by knocks and fitness this season. To make Orlando’s attack more resilient to these absences, someone like Laura Freigang would add more goal-scoring depth to the front line and help carry the load.

Freigang is a 26-year-old German international with 27 caps to her name. For the past four seasons, she has starred for Eintracht Frankfurt in the Frauen-Bundesliga, where she scored 48 times and assisted 15 times in 82 career appearances. She pairs these creation numbers with a 76.4% pass completion percentage, making her one of the better all-around forwards in Europe.

Prior to her time in Frankfurt, she played collegiately for Penn State, sharing an alma mater with current Pride players Kerry Abello and Cori Dyke. This familiarity with the U.S., as well as the increased finances available to NWSL clubs, can make playing in the States an appealing option for Freigang, as well as other players abroad. 

Julia Grosso – Attacking Midfielder

Orlando has played in a handful of different formations so far this season, sometimes to maximize a weakness that Head Coach Seb Hines sees in the opposition, and sometimes to cover gaps created by injury. The midfield has been the area of the pitch that has had to deal with the most absences, namely Luana’s season-ending illness and Angelina’s ongoing recovery from a knee injury. 

As mentioned above, the Pride have already signed Chanda to add depth and versatility to the midfield. From the club’s comments when she signed, it is obvious they view her as a gifted attacker that can cover multiple positions. If the Pride do not feel they are done reinforcing the midfield, they may take a long look at Julia Grosso.

Grosso is a 23-year-old Canadian who has just completed a three-year stint at Juventus in Italy, the same club from which the Pride signed Duljan. At Juventus, Grosso featured in 50 matches, scoring nine times. Despite her young age, she already has 63 appearances for Canada, but has fallen down the pecking order as of late and there have been rumors of her moving to the NWSL to be closer to home and national team scouts. 

Grosso’s passing and goal-scoring numbers are among the top for midfielders in Europe, though her defensive metrics show a player that prefers to join the attack. This profile could make her a different and intriguing option for Pride staff, depending on how they view the evolution of the midfield and the role of Chanda.

Lucy Bronze – Right Back

The Pride could improve their midfield depth in an unexpected way, by signing a new defender. In recent weeks, Hines has solved the issue of Orlando’s injured midfielders by pulling Haley McCutcheon from right back to defensive midfield and moving each member of the back line one position to the right to cover. This game of dominoes could be avoided altogether by adding another starting caliber right back and moving McCutcheon to the midfield on a more permanent basis. This could also shift the back line back to the left one space, allowing Abello to move forward.

One of the most exciting players in the world, Lucy Bronze, is out of contract at Barcelona and could be available, although she is sure to have many clubs interested in signing her. The 32-year-old English international was voted Best FIFA Women’s Player in 2020. For Barcelona, Bronze won just about every trophy possible in the past two seasons, including each of the last two UEFA Women’s Champions League, Liga F, and Spanish Supercopa trophies, as well as the most recent Copa de la Reina.

Despite all of the success, Barcelona is struggling to afford contract renewals for their top players, the same issue plaguing Barcelona’s men’s team. It is already rumored that U.S.-based clubs are interested in Bronze’s signature if she does not renew. Given that she could start for almost any club in the world, the Pride should do what they can to jump the queue for Bronze.

Sandra Panos – Goalkeeper

The last role that Orlando may consider adding is an additional goalkeeper to compete with Anna Moorhouse. While Moorhouse boasts four clean sheets and a 76% save percentage, she has been error prone in her time in Orlando, leading to crucial dropped points. 

In the winter window, the Pride signed Sofia Manner to the goalkeeper position, stating they “expect [her] to challenge for the starting position,” but she has yet to make an appearance for the club. McKinley Crone has been the bench option. Manner and Crone are on one-year deals, club options notwithstanding, so the goalkeeper position is one that will need attention soon.

It just so happens that another great Barcelona player is available due to the team’s financial constraints. To truly elevate Orlando’s goalkeeping core, 31-year-old Sandra Panos would be an excellent addition. Panos spent the last nine seasons in Catalonia, but local reports have hinted at interest from teams in the U.S., England, and Mexico. Similar to Bronze, a player of this caliber cannot be ignored when they are available. It just remains to be seen if a top club in the NWSL can entice the Spanish international to cross the Atlantic for a new opportunity.

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Orlando Pride Need Goal Production When Barbra Banda is Off the Field

Barbra Banda has been a goal-scoring machine, but the Pride need an alternative when she’s not on the field.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Mark Thor

The Orlando Pride made waves in the women’s game when they signed Zambia international striker Barbra Banda from Chinese Women’s Super League club Shanghai Shengli. It’s been an incredibly successful acquisition with Banda immediately becoming one of the most impactful players in the NWSL. However, the club needs to figure out how to succeed without her contributions as well.

Following the 2021 NWSL season, the Pride began a complete rebuild under former general manager Ian Fleming. Using the Washington Spirit as a model, they traded stars like Alex Morgan, Ashlyn Harris, and Ali Krieger for draft picks and Allocation Money. While the moves caused frustration among the team’s fanbase, the club used the money to acquire Brazilian international Adriana, re-sign club captain Marta, and sign Banda.

The deal for Banda came close to breaking records. The $740,000 transfer fee is the second highest in the history of the women’s game. A move like that — along with her international scoring record — comes with enormous expectations and, so far, Banda has lived up to the hype.

It took some time for Banda to arrive in Orlando because the signing came while she was taking part in Olympic qualifying for Zambia. Once she arrived, the goal contributions began. She made her debut on April 19, coming on in the 61st minute for Ally Watt. While she didn’t score in her debut, she looked dangerous and the goals soon came.

The Pride have scored 15 goals in the last seven games and Banda has been part of 14. This includes eight goals, three assists, two penalties drawn, and a goal following the blocking of one of her shots. The only goal she wasn’t directly part of was Emily Sams’ opener against the Seattle Reign on May 19. However, she had a brace in that game.

To say that the Banda signing has been a successful one would be an understatement. While the Pride were a playoff caliber team without her — they narrowly missed the postseason last year — the striker’s addition makes them arguably the best team in the league. But her success this season also raises some questions about the rest of the squad.

It’s incredibly rare that a field player plays every minute of every game. That’s even more so for an attacking player that runs as much as Banda during games. Players need rest to avoid overuse and possibly seeing a dip in form later in the season. This is one of the reasons why Banda was taken off at halftime against San Diego Wave FC Friday night.

The Pride have scored multiple goals in five games this season. They netted two late in the season opener against Racing Louisville FC, before Banda’s arrival. The other four have been in Banda starts and she’s contributed to all but one of those goals. Clearly she had a significant impact on the team’s ability to score, so what happens when she’s not on the field?

Prior to May 24 against the Portland Thorns, Banda had played over 80 minutes in all of her starts for the Pride. The two most recent games she’s been replaced at halftime. In the first one, she had already netted a first-half brace and the Pride had a commanding 2-0 lead at home. However, they were only leading by a goal in San Diego when she was replaced by Marta.

The absence of Banda on the field was apparent Friday night. San Diego had chances in the first half, but the Pride created problems for the Wave’s back line throughout the first 45 minutes. After recording six shots in the first half, they only had three in the second. Makenzy Doniak equalized in the 62nd minute and, despite losing the lead, the Pride still looked lifeless in the attack. That leads to the question of whether the Pride can find goals without their star striker.

The most obvious go-to player when Banda is off the field is Watt. The speedster is the only other striker to play significant minutes this season, but she’s only scored once this year. Other than Banda, the only Pride players with multiple goals are Summer Yates (3), Julie Doyle (2), and Marta (2).

While no other players come close to Banda’s goal production, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Several players contribute to goals, which can cause problems for opposing defenses. The bigger problem is that the Pride aren’t converting when Banda isn’t on the field. That’s not a concern when Banda comes off in the final minutes with a multi-goal lead. However, the Pride have been in one-goal games without the striker in the last two matches and been unable to score a goal that would put the game away.

When Banda is on the field, she’s the go-to attacker, a large reason why she has a league-leading eight goals this year. The Pride need to find a dependable goal scorer when the striker isn’t on the field. Potential goal scorers can be overlooked when a player like Banda is scoring at the rate she has this season, but those players should show up when she’s not on the field. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been happening.

The Pride have had a fantastic start to the 2024 NWSL season, including a 12-game unbeaten run and a league record eight-game winning streak. Much of the success can be attributed to the play of Banda, but the Pride need to find goals when she’s not on the field. If they can figure out that last piece, they might be unstoppable.

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Orlando Pride vs. San Diego Wave: Final Score 1-1 as Winning Streak Ends at 8 Games

The shorthanded Pride scored first but had to split the points on the road with yet another different starting lineup.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

The NWSL-record win streak is over but the team remains unbeaten in 2024 after a 1-1 draw against the San Diego Wave at Snapdragon Stadium. Orlando (8-0-4, 28 points) got a first-half goal from Julie Doyle and withstood ferocious attacking pressure by San Diego (3-4-4, 13 points) throughout the second half, conceding a deflected goal by Makenzy Doniak but holding on for a road point.

Orlando remains unbeaten in San Diego (2-0-1) and stays atop the NWSL standings, three points ahead of Kansas City, albeit with one more game played than the Current. The Pride are already within three points of their total for all of last season.

“Overall, I think it’s a good away point,” Orlando Pride Head Coach Seb Hines said after the match. “It keeps our unbeaten streak going as well. It’s always a tough place to come, San Diego away. You look at the personnel they have on the field, you know, internationals all over, but I thought we stood up to the challenge really well.”

Hines did not have a full-strength squad for the contest, with Brazilian internationals Rafaelle and Adriana out of the matchday roster and Marta on the bench after the trio played Tuesday night in Brazil. Anna Moorhouse started in goal behind a back line of Kerry Abello, Kylie Strom, Emily Sams, and Brianna Martinez. The midfield in the 4-4-2 consisted of Cori Dyke — her first NWSL start — Morgan Gautrat, Haley McCutcheon, and Doyle, with Barbra Banda and Ally Watt up top.

The Pride were sloppy out of the gate, turning the ball over repeatedly in the first five minutes. The hosts couldn’t produce any clear-cut chances off of those turnovers, however. The first decent look came in the sixth minute when Strom tried to shepherd the ball out of play but instead turned it over. The ball ended up with Mya Jones in the box and Strom recovered to block her first shot attempt. The rebound came back to her and she sent the follow-up shot off target.

Abello got muscled off the ball in the 11th minute, allowing Jones to get a cross from the right to the far post. Maria Sanchez was there and got her header on target, but it was right at Moorhouse for the comfortable save.

Orlando’s first look at goal came in the 16th minute when Abello stole the ball and sent it to Doyle on the right. Doyle fired her shot near post but missed wide into the outside netting, wasting the opportunity. Two minutes later, Banda tried a curling shot from outside the area on the left but sent it fizzing just wide of the right post.

Doyle took a pass from Watt and got into the box on the right in the 26th minute. Cutting back to her left, she sent a left-footed effort on goal but it was a weak dribbler right at Kailen Sheridan for an easy scoop.

Alex Morgan was sent in deep by Jaedyn Shaw in the 29th minute on the right side. Moorhouse perhaps could have gotten to the ball first, but she hesitated and had to make a big save from point-blank range to keep the game scoreless.

Banda sent in a good cross for Watt from the right in the 31st minute. Watt went down under contact but the referee wasn’t interested in making a call. The Pride won a corner out of it and Strom sent a weak header right at Sheridan.

Moments later, Strom slipped while defending Morgan, who was able to get a clean look at goal but fired her shot right at Moorhouse.

In the 34th minute, Banda got loose on the right and tried a cross that deflected out to the top of the area. McCutcheon ran onto it and fired but the shot was wide.

The Pride broke through two minutes later. Orlando countered off a San Diego set piece and the ball ended up with Banda on the right after a nice play by Martinez. Banda took on Naomi Girma and sent a cross into the middle for Doyle, who contorted her body and stuck out a leg to redirect the ball past Sheridan to make it 1-0 in the 36th minute.

“I definitely wasn’t satisfied with just one goal, and I knew that one goal wasn’t going to win the game. I think once you get one in, your confidence just goes up, and so I’m hoping that that was the start of more to come, but yeah, we’ll see. I’ve just got to keep shooting, and trusting my teammates, and being committed to getting in the width of the goal.”

“I thought we took our goal exceptionally well. It was great to see Julie get on the score sheet,” Hines said.

Banda nutmegged a defender and got in down the left in the 41st minute but her cross for Watt was tipped away by a defender’s toe.

The last chance of the half fell to San Diego, with Danielle Colaprico firing a dipping shot toward goal that Moorhouse tipped over the bar.

San Diego dominated the possession in the first half (65%-35%) and had the advantage in shots (8-6), shots on target (6-3), corners (4-1), and passing accuracy (86%-74%), but the Pride had the only goal.

Marta came on for Banda — who Hines said was on a minute limitation for the match — to start the second half, making her 100th NWSL appearance. The substitution emboldened the hosts, who pressed forward without the fear of Banda’s pace and scoring threat. As a result, the hosts were on the front foot throughout the second half and the Pride’s block dropped deeper as they went back to their play of the first five minutes, repeatedly turning the ball over in their own half.

“It’s very difficult, because there’s not another player like Barbara,” Hines said. “She is always going to put fear in defenders. She’s going to keep defenders honest with starting position. I think if that scenario presents itself again, we still have quality players, and it may look a little bit different.”

The first chance fell for the Wave in the 54th minute when Morgan broke down the left with two teammates in the area and only one defender. Abello was the one defender, and she was able to knock the cross out for a corner. Gautrat cleared the ensuing set piece cross.

Watt got up the right in the 57th minute, with one of her limited second-half touches, but she sent either a cross or a shot attempt right at Sheridan.

Marta had a tight-angle shot in the 60th angle, but the effort was no trouble for Sheridan, who knocked it aside for a corner.

Two minutes later, the hosts equalized. Martinez gave too much space on the right side and it allowed a cross to find second-half sub Doniak. Moorhouse may have stopped the shot, but it deflected off of Abello and in to make it 1-1 in the 62nd minute.

“To be honest, I couldn’t see (the ball), because Kerry was stood right in front of me,” Moorhouse said. “It’s just one of those things. I think on a different day, Kerry can block it.”

“Obviously disappointed with the equalizer, but to see the game out and get a point away from home is pleasing for the staff and the players,” Hines said.

Two minutes after the goal, the Pride survived a scare. Moorhouse came off her line to get to a ball over the top, but she sent her clearance off an opponent and it deflected to Kyra Carusa, who tried to fire into the empty net from distance. Fortunately for the Pride, Carusa didn’t make good contact and sent her shot too low, where Moorhouse could catch it.

A poor giveaway in the defensive half led to a Carusa shot in the 71st minute but it was over the crossbar. The Pride immediately gave the ball back and Savannah McCaskill sent a cross to a wide-open Sofia Jakobsson at the back post, but she sent her header off target.

Substitute Mariana Larroquette nearly got in behind in the 79th minute on a good through ball but she didn’t have enough pace to stay ahead of Abby Dahlkemper.

Two minutes later, Jakobsson sent a dangerous cross to the near post for Doniak but it was just over her head and Moorhouse caught it.

Pride forward Alex Kerr, who was selected in the fourth round of the 2024 NWSL Draft, made her professional debut late, coming on in the 83rd minute for Watt.

San Diego survived a rare mistake by Sheridan in the 88th minute. The goalkeeper came off her line to catch a Marta set piece cross, but she spilled the ball and it laid in the box teasingly, but no Pride players could get to it. The ball was sent out of the box where Martinez gathered it and sent a poor cross out of play.

Nothing came of the six minutes of stoppage time for either side, with neither getting a clear-cut opportunity. Marta made a nice move to keep a ball in at the end line but sent a screamer out in front that was too close to Sheridan, who covered it. On the other end, a deflected cross fell to Kristen McNabb outside the area and the fullback sent a shot that sailed well off target.

That was it, and the teams had to split the points.

San Diego dominated the stat sheet, finishing with the advantage in possession (65%-35%), shots (19-9), shots on target (13-6), corners (6-2), and passing accuracy (85%-74%).

It wasn’t the kind of performance the Pride have shown during much of the unbeaten streak so far, but considering the unavailability of key players and a difficult road environment against a determined opponent, the draw isn’t the worst outcome in the first of four road games in the final five matches before the Summer Cup break.

“I think the players (were) coming off the field disappointed (with the draw) that they put themselves in a position to win the game,” Hines said. “Unfortunate not to see it out or get that second goal. But you know, every game has its challenges. I think there’s elements of our game that we can continue to improve on. I think we can control the game more in possession, find connections and our links, but again it’s a good away point. Last year we probably would have taken that, but the players have set high standards for themselves and so have we as staff.”

Moorhouse confirmed Hines’ observation.

“I think the biggest thing is disappointment,” the goalkeeper said about the game. “I definitely thought we defended well. We attacked well as well. I think we were very disappointed to come away with a point and not all three.”


The Pride will finish their two-game road swing on Saturday, June 15 at North Carolina.

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