The Orlando Pride returned home to take on the top of the table North Carolina Courage. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to take any points from the match as they fell 4-3. It might be a disappointing result, but it’s important that we take a look at what we can learn from such a match. Here are your five takeaways.
A Tale of Two Halves
Despite being at home, the Pride seemed to come out as if they were jet-lagged from their road trip. North Carolina on the other hand, was pressing from the first whistle. Jessica McDonald scored the first Courage goal in the 32nd minute, though it seemed as if it should have been the fourth, given the chances North Carolina had during that time. The Pride ended with 48% possession in the first half, though it didn’t feel that high.
I’m not sure what Tom Sermanni said during halftime, but he should probably bottle it. The Pride came out a different team. Carolina was still dangerous and had plenty of chances, but the Pride made sure to take advantage of the chances they had. It was enough to allow the Pride to comeback from deficits of 1-0 and 3-1 in a crazy match.
Ubogagu Scores Again
You can say what you like about some aspects of Chioma Ubogagu’s play, but she has been scoring goals this season. She netted her fourth goal of the year to draw the Pride back to 1-1 in the 52nd minute of play, matching her goal total from last season. Ubogagu played better this game than she did in some of the earlier games. Her effort level was impressive before being subbed off in the 74th minute.
Marta Gonna Marta, Alex Still Silent
Marta quietly did what she does nearly every game — create chances, provide support on both ends of the field, lead by example, and occasionally make three players look silly as she dribbles away from them. Marta assisted on goals by Ubogagu and Rachel Hill. On the other hand, Alex Morgan was kept off the scoreboard again. She has only one goal this season, and if the Pride are to do better this season, they’ll need the star to start scoring again. She did put the ball in the net on a play that was ruled offside that maybe wasn’t, but that was about it for Alex last night.
Hill and Dani Weatherholt came in around the 75th minute to spell Ubogagu and Christine Nairn, respectively. Both players were able to make an impact on the game with Weatherholt providing good defense and Hill scoring the Pride’s third goal to tie it up in the 83rd minute.
The Pride came back from a two-goal, second-half deficit to equalize against the first place Courage. It was everything that the fans in attendance and those watching at home could hope for — until the 90th minute that is. Jessica McDonald tore the heart out of them all with a shoulder shot that poked over Ashlyn Harris’ arms, and Shelina Zadorsky couldn’t quite save with her head. Despite two minutes of stoppage time, the Pride couldn’t produce a fourth equalizer.
Don’t let the result fool you. This was a match featuring two of the top teams in the league. While it is unfortunate that the Pride lost, there are still positives to take from it and build on as the season moves on. Go Pride!