The Orlando Pride announced today that the club has signed defender Carrie Lawrence to a one-year deal with an option for an additional season. Lawrence was one of seven players who signed a short-term contract to play with the Pride in the 2020 NWSL Fall Series and she evidently impressed enough during that stint at right back to earn a spot with her hometown team.
“We’re really pleased to sign Carrie back to the Pride. She has a heartbeat made here in Florida, which allows her to connect with the club in a unique way,” Orlando Pride Head Coach Marc Skinner said in a club press release. “She has the physical and technical skills to perform in the NWSL coupled with the character to manage challenges while continuing to improve. Carrie possesses a lot of potential and we are excited to keep working together to turn that potential into high performance.”
The Orlando native rejoins the Pride after appearing for the Pride in all four matches of the Fall Series, starting three. The UCF product made her professional debut Sept. 19 in a 0-0 road draw against North Carolina. She played the full 90 minutes and had a goal-line clearance that kept the score level in that match.
Lawrence played 233 of the team’s 360 minutes in the Fall Series and was one of the team’s more pleasant surprises. Defensively, she contributed 14 clearances, a block, and four interceptions. She had a 66.7% tackle success rate and won 55.2% of her duels, including 100% of her aerial duels. Her passing rate of 67.5% was decent on an average of 32 attempts per 90 minutes, and she was successful on 40% of her long pass attempts. Lawrence didn’t score a goal but did register an assist on a Kristen Edmonds goal in the 3-3 comeback draw at home against the Courage in the Fall Series finale. She attempted one shot in her four games, which wasn’t on target, and created two scoring chances.
Before playing the bulk of her collegiate soccer with the Knights, Lawrence played her freshman season with the University of South Carolina, appearing in all 20 matches (two starts), scoring her first college goal against Kennesaw State on Sept. 14, 2015, and was voted the Gamecocks’ Rookie of the Year by her teammates and coaches.
After transferring to UCF ahead of her sophomore season, Lawrence was a three-year letter winner from 2016-2018, making 49 appearances, scoring four goals and adding 11 assists. She was a second team All-American Athletic Conference selection for her senior season. Following her collegiate career, Lawrence joined the Pride as a training player for the 2019 season, before joining on a short-term contract for the Fall Series and subsequently earning her one-year contract.
What it Means for Orlando
This is a positive move for the Pride. Right back was an area of need for the team after the departure of Emily Sonnett in the recent trade with the Washington Spirit. While Ali Krieger can still play that position, indications are that Skinner would like to play Krieger at center back. Even if Krieger were to play right back, there was little quality depth in the position. Lawrence showed during the Fall Series that she’s far less prone to turnovers than predecessor Erin Greening, she seems to have a good grasp of Skinner’s system, and she can provide some width in the attack.
There will be less pressure for Skinner to address the position in next week’s NWSL Draft — an uncertain one with the NCAA allowing players up to a week after the draft to decide whether or not to participate in their spring collegiate season. Edmonds has played the position for the Pride in the past, but she is currently not under contract, although a new deal has been offered to her. Likewise, Camila has played in that spot in the past but the Brazilian international too has yet to officially sign her new contract offer.
Orlando was explicit in stating the club was going to use the Fall Series to get a look at young and/or unproven players to see if anyone stepped up and showed they could play in the league. Lawrence did just that and, as a result, the hometown player has a job in professional soccer for at least the 2021 season, if not longer.