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Orlando Pride Re-Sign Defender Carrie Lawrence

The fullback-turned-center-back inks a new two-year deal through the 2024 season.

NWSL: Orlando Pride at OL Reign Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports

The Orlando Pride announced that defender Carrie Lawrence has signed a new two-year contract that will keep her in purple through the 2024 season. Lawrence was one of five out-of-contract players to whom the Pride offered a new deal following the 2022 season.

“We are happy to bring Carrie back to the Pride for two more seasons and have her continue to be a part of our process for this club moving forward,” Head Coach Seb Hines said in a club press release. “She has been with us since she came out of college and has worked her way up to being a vital member of our team. Her dependability, versatility and tenacity are exactly what we want from our players, so we are delighted to keep her here in the City Beautiful.”

An Orlando native, Lawrence initially joined the Pride as a training player back in 2019 and signed a short-term contract with Orlando for the 2020 NWSL Fall Series, appearing in all four matches (three starts), logging 233 minutes. She did not score a goal but notched an assist in a 3-3 home draw against the North Carolina Courage. She clearly showed her value as the Pride signed Lawrence to a contract for the 2021 season on Jan. 5, 2021, with a club option for 2022, which was picked up by Orlando last off-season. Now she has a new, longer deal as she continues to prove herself in NWSL play.

“I’m excited to play another two years in a city that means so much to me, a city that I love, and for a club that has so much potential ahead,” Lawrence said in the club’s release. “It’s a dream to be able to play for the best fans, my family and my community every day, and I can’t wait to get started next year. There’s no place like home!”

Lawrence did not see action in 2021, missing 12 matches with injuries and simply not being selected by Marc Skinner or Becky Burleigh in the others. However, she got back on the pitch in 2022 and was one of the club’s best defenders.

She made four appearances (three starts) in the Pride’s 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup run, playing 229 minutes. She did not score or assist on a goal, attempting just one off-target shot. Lawrence completed 43 of 74 passes (58.1%) in the tournament and four of her 14 long passes (28.6%), completing two crosses and creating two chances with key passes. Defensively, she finished the pre-season tournament with six clearances, four blocks, and four interceptions. She was successful in seven of her 11 tackles (63.6%), 21 of her 38 duels (55.3%), and all three of her aerial duels.

In the regular season, Lawrence made 14 appearances (12 starts), logging 1,114 minutes. She ended the regular season with 41 clearances, 11 blocks, and 19 interceptions. She was successful in 14 of her 20 tackles (70%), 34 of her 59 duels (57.6%), and three of her eight aerial duels (37.5%). Going forward, Lawrence did not record a goal or an assist, but she completed 425 of her 556 pass attempts (76.4%) and 49 of her 127 long passes (38.6%). She completed two crosses, made five key passes, and took two off-target shots.

For her efforts in 2022, The Mane Land staff gave Lawrence a composite rating of 6 out of 10 at the end of the season.

Lawrence, 25, is a 2019 graduate of the UCF, where she was a three-year letterwinner for the Knights. From 2016-2018, Lawrence made 49 appearances, scoring four goals and adding 11 assists. Prior to joining the Knights, Lawrence spent her freshman season at the University of South Carolina, where she scored two goals and added an assist in 20 appearances.

What It Means for Orlando

The Pride have struggled defensively since entering the NWSL in 2016 and Lawrence was one of the club’s better back line players in 2022, so this signing is good news for Orlando fans. Lawrence started her Pride career playing right back but has looked the part while growing into the center back position. She will be expected to compete for a starting spot for the 2023 season.

With Lawrence signed, the Pride still have four players to whom they offered new contracts. Those four players include two other defenders — Celia and Courtney Petersen — along with midfielders Jordyn Listro and Viviana Villacorta. Of those four, Villacorta is the most important player to get under contract. The former UCLA star is a young and growing talent who could become an important player for the Pride’s rebuild and her absence after sustaining an ankle injury that required surgery in September was evident.

Now that the dominoes are falling on the 2023 roster build, we should hear more news out of the Pride quickly. The NWSL Draft is just five weeks away (Jan. 12) and — even though the club is still without an executive vice president and general manager — it’s imperative to know which position groups on Hines’ team are thinnest as that draft approaches.