The Orlando Pride have agreed to terms with four of last year’s players just weeks before the start of the 2017 NWSL season. Forward Jasmyne Spencer, midfielder Maddy Evans, defender Toni Pressley and goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe are all back in the fold for 2017 after agreeing to new deals. Per team and league policy, terms of the contacts are not announced.
“We’re delighted to bring back this group of players that made up a strong portion of our inaugural roster,” Pride Head Coach Tom Sermanni said in a club press release. “With the re-signing of these players, paired with the acquisitions we’ve made during the off-season, I’m confident in the talent and competitiveness we’ve compiled for the upcoming NWSL season.”
Spencer, 26, was the most integral of the four during the club’s inaugural year, leading the team with 20 appearances (17 starts) – playing in all of the team’s league games – and scoring four goals, tying for second on the team with Alex Morgan. Spencer tied for second on the team in shots (30) and was second in shots on goal (18). She also drew a team-high 33 fouls.
Spencer spent the off-season with the W-League’s Canberra Untied, which won the regular season title in Australia’s domestic league. She won NWSL Goal of the Week for her stoppage time game winner against the Houston Dash on June 23 last year.
FULLTIME: Orlando Pride - 1 | Houston Dash - 0— Orlando Pride (@ORLPride) June 24, 2016
Spencer with the stoppage time goal! #Clutch #3points pic.twitter.com/O6zLpZD99D
Evans, 25, was selected in the 2015 NWSL Expansion Draft and started 12 matches in 16 appearances for the Pride in 2016, recording an assist and nine shots (three on goal). She spent this off-season with the W-League’s Brisbane Roar. Evans provided some versatility for Tom Sermanni in 2016, with the ability to play in multiple positions.
Pressley, 26, appeared in 14 matches with the Pride in 2016 (11 starts), playing 1,027 minutes. She was occasionally used as a taker of free and corner kicks for the club. With a strengthened Pride back line, Pressley will provide depth behind the likes of Australian internationals Laura Alleway and Alanna Kennedy.
Bledsoe, 25, had her 2016 season derailed by a broken leg after only one start. She allowed two goals and made two saves in her first career NWSL start on May 28, a 2-0 loss at FC Kansas City. She’ll once again back up Ashlyn Harris in 2017.