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2021 Orlando Pride Season in Review: Toni Pressley

The fourth-choice center back played sparingly and struggled in multiple appearances.

Chicago Red Stars v Orlando Pride Photo by Jeremy Reper/ISI Photos/Getty Images

The Orlando Pride selected Toni Pressley during the 2016 NWSL Expansion Draft. The Melbourne native is one of three players (Ashlyn Harris and Alex Morgan) to remain from that inaugural squad.

After signing a new contract before the season, Pressley was the fourth-choice center back this year behind starters Ali Krieger, Phoebe McClernon, and Amy Turner.

Statistical Breakdown

Pressley played in three of the Pride’s four games in the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup. She came on in second-half injury time against both Racing Louisville and the Washington Spirit, and recorded her only start in a scoreless draw against the North Carolina Courage.

In total, Pressley played 92 minutes in the three games, recording 16 clearances and three interceptions. While she didn’t have any tackles, she won two of her three duels, all of which were in the air. Unfortunately, her most memorable moment in the Challenge Cup was a mistimed jump in the opening game, allowing Louisville to score the equalizing goal in the third minute of injury time.

In terms of distribution, Pressley completed 10 of her 22 passes (45.5%) and five of her 13 long passes (38.5%).

Pressley took part in 11 of the Pride’s 24 NWSL regular-season games this year. She started four times and went the full 90 minutes twice — Aug. 29 against NJ/NY Gotham FC and Oct. 29 against the Chicago Red Stars. She played a total of 426 minutes.

Defensively, Pressley recorded 13 clearances, four blocks, and seven interceptions. She was successful in four of her five tackles (80%), won 13 of her 22 duels (59.1%), and was successful in four of her nine aerial duels (44.4%). Additionally, she drew and conceded two fouls.

The center back completed 144 of her 208 passes (69.2%), with 56.3% of those passes sent forward. She connected on 37 of her 80 long passes (46.3%), with most coming from her own side of the field. Additionally, she recorded her only shot in the final game of the season.

Best Game

While Pressley took part in 14 total games, she only played at least 30 minutes in one Challenge Cup appearance and five NWSL regular-season games. Her worst performance came on July 4 against North Carolina, where she played 80 minutes but only had 23 touches, completed 66.7% of her 12 passes, and pulled down Jessica McDonald for a penalty.

Despite playing at least 80 minutes on four occasions, she only played 59 minutes in her best performance. On July 9, Pressley helped the Pride to a 1-1 draw against Racing Louisville before being replaced by Turner.

The center back was quite active in those 59 minutes, recording 38 touches and completing 75.8% of her 33 passes. Additionally, she had one successful tackle. The game saw her second-most touches, most passes, and second-best passing percentage of the season.

2021 Final Grade

The Mane Land staff gave Pressley a composite score of 5.5 for the 2021 NWSL season. The defender didn’t add much to the squad as she only played more than five minutes on four occasions before the final four games. It didn’t help that in two of those appearances, she was at fault for an opponent’s goal and conceded a penalty.

2022 Outlook

Pressley signed a one-year deal before the 2021 NWSL season with an option for 2022. So she could return for her seventh season with the Pride. However, whether the option will be picked up is another question.

Former Pride Head Coach Marc Skinner liked the idea of Pressley being on the team for her on-field and off-field attributes. “She possesses many top-level skills and attributes that can serve us well as we aim to bring success to the team,” Skinner said when she signed her most-recent extension. “In addition to her on-field talent, her influence in the locker room and the respect she has from everyone at the club makes her an excellent fit to help us achieve our aspirations.”

Pressley was even more of a factor in the team when Becky Burleigh took over on July 25 after Skinner resigned to take the Manchester United job. In the 12 games Burleigh coached, Pressley had seven of her 11 regular-season appearances and two of her four starts. However, the Pride will have a new head coach in 2022, so it remains to be seen how they’ll view the 31-year-old defender.

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