The Orlando Pride drafted Courtney Petersen with the seventh overall pick of the 2020 NWSL College Draft. It was the first time in Pride history that the club drafted two players in the first round, having picked Taylor Kornieck with the third overall pick. The Canton, MI native played her college career at the University of Virginia in the very competitive ACC. Petersen scored five goals and recorded 12 assists in 78 appearances for the Cavaliers.
She was selected specifically for her versatility in being able to play both in the midfield and also at left back. That turned out to be the case, as she was employed in both positions throughout the season.
Petersen started in the Pride’s 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup match against NJ/NY Gotham FC and appeared as a substitute in the final two matches against the Washington Spirit and the North Carolina Courage for a total of 103 minutes in that tournament.
She made 22 appearances during the regular season, starting 21 of those, for a total of 1,877 minutes. Although listed as a midfielder, Petersen most often filled the left back role for the Pride, though she also played as a wingback and a more traditional midfielder. She registered a goal and two assists, and she put four of her 11 shots on target. Petersen completed 21 crosses and made 27 key passes. She completed 63.6% of her 821 total passes, with 51.5% in the opponent’s half and 71.9% accuracy in her own half.
Defensively, Petersen made 39 clearances, two blocks, and 30 interceptions in her time on the field. She had a 62.1% tackle success rate, and won 50% of her duels. She committed 16 fouls, suffered six, and earned two yellow cards.
Petersen’s best match was the Pride’s 1-1 draw with Gotham FC on June 20. She went the full 90 minutes, starting at left back. She was the defender on Caprice Dydasco’s goal just before the half, but she was forced to cover two players after an Ali Krieger giveaway in the Pride’s half. As she closed down on Dydasco, the Gotham player put a perfect shot over Ashlyn Harris’ hands.
Petersen returned the favor on the other side of the pitch for her first and only goal of the season to earn the Pride a point, and keep the unbeaten streak (at that point in the season) going.
Petersen contributed three corner kicks, and a few other crosses, that the Pride offense was unable to finish. She also committed two fouls and was called offside once.
2021 Final Grade
Petersen saw plenty of action this season, and while she showed moments of brilliance, she also showed a propensity for mediocrity much of the time. She gets a grade of 5.5 from The Mane Land staff as she showed flashes of her potential, but lacks consistency when defending out wide on an island, when selecting the right option getting forward in the attack, or while crossing the ball into the area. Becoming more consistent in those areas of her game could elevate her stock dramatically.
The Pride signed Petersen to a two-year contract with one option year on March 3, 2020. There’s been no word yet on whether the club is picking up her option, and it may depend on who the new head coach is, and whether that person sees a place for Petersen in their system. Petersen’s future in Orlando also could depend on which other players are brought in. If the Pride signs a more polished left back, Petersen may or may not have a place in the midfield. But there is a lot of potential there, and if she does return, it will be interesting to see what role she has in the lineup. Her positional versatility is a bonus on a limited roster and we expect that her option will be picked up.