Nothing was easy for Joanna Boyles and the Orlando Pride in 2019. But the hard way has been the only way for her for a long time now. After tearing both of her ACLs in a 10-month period, Boyles came back her senior year at the University of North Carolina and helped the team win the 2017 ACC tournament.
Then she got drafted in 2018 by the Boston Breakers, who then folded just one week later. She got picked up by the Chicago Red Stars in the dispersal draft, and played with the reserve side in 2018. She joined the Pride for the 2019 preseason, and impressed the coaching staff enough to make the opening day roster.
So when the Pride struggled the way they did in 2019, it probably wasn’t anything new for Boyles. Adversity always seems to be waiting around the corner for her. Perhaps that’s why she was, to me, one of the few bright spots in 2019.
Boyles accrued the fifth-most minutes on the team in 2019 with 1,379 and had 19 appearances, 16 of those being starts. It didn’t take long for her to see her first professional minutes though, getting the start on opening day against the Portland Thorns.
She finished the season with one goal and two assists. Only three other players finished with a higher combination — Marta, Rachel Hill, and Chioma Ubogagu — which speaks somewhat to the team’s scoring troubles this year.
Her distribution was decent at 68.2%, which included nine key passes. Her tackle success rate was slightly better at an even 69%. One of the things I liked about her performance was her discipline. She played tough, but didn’t give up a foolish foul in a bad spot. She was fouled a total of 11 times, and conceded 16 fouls of her own, netting zero yellow or red cards in the process. She was the only field player with over 325 minutes played to not get a card.
This was an easy one. On June 15, the Pride went to BBVA Stadium in Houston and earned a draw. Boyles was a huge part of that, scoring the opening goal in the 13th minute on a free kick from just outside the box. It was low, it was direct, it was no nonsense. It was also the first goal of her professional career.
By the 67th minute, the Houston Dash scored the go-ahead goal. A few minutes later though, Ubogagu found Boyles, who then gave the ball a quick flick to Danica Evans to finish it off and end the game 2-2.
2019 Final Grade
Our staff gave Boyles a composite score of 5. Considering many Pride fans out there, including myself, didn’t know much about her entering 2019, I came away impressed. She was often a player that I gravitated towards because I loved her effort and attitude on and off the field.
I would be surprised to see her anywhere other than Orlando next year. A trade could come, but Head Coach Marc Skinner and General Manager Erik Ustruck are getting enough value in Boyles that it seems really worthwhile to keep her on. Her attitude and work rate are infectious and she’ll only get better from here.
However, I think we all suspect quite a bit of turnover this year, and I hope to see some big players come in that make getting minutes in the midfield no easy task. But for Boyles, when has it ever been easy?