Seb Hines’ squad has sustained a preseason setback as Orlando Pride defender Carrie Lawrence, a presumed starter, sustained a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her left knee. The Pride announced the injury news today, stating that the defender was hurt during last week’s training camp in Port St. Lucie. Lawrence will be out indefinitely.
The club gave no timetable for recovery, but sustaining a torn ACL this close to the start of the season usually means the player will miss the entire season. The Pride announced that Lawrence will have surgery at the Orlando Health Jewett Orthopedic Institute. Orlando Pride Chief Medical Officer and Head Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Craig Mintzer will perform the procedure.
“It’s unfortunate and we’re saddened for Carrie to be facing an injury like this, but the ownership, staff, and team are fully rallying around her,” Orlando Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter said in a club press release. “Our goal is to help Carrie get back on the pitch as safely and as quickly as possible, and we’ll be supporting her every step of the way.”
The Orlando native 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 prior to last season.
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. The Pride just re-signed Lawrence to a two-year contract a couple of months ago, on Dec. 5, 2022.
Lawrence, 25, is a 2019 graduate of 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
Lawrence seemed likely to start on the Pride’s back line in 2023, potentially with top 2023 draft pick Emily Madril in central defense. While Megan Montefusco seemed like a strong candidate to play the No. 6 position in central midfield, she may be needed on a back line that otherwise lacks NWSL experience.
Aside from Montefusco, the only Pride center backs currently signed are second-year pro Caitlin Cosme, who sat out her entire rookie season due to injury, and Madril. Rookie Tori Hansen, who was another Pride selection in the 2023 NWSL Draft, is in the club’s preseason camp but has not yet been signed to a contract.
The Pride have the option of bringing in another defender with experience. By now, Hines probably has a good idea of what his inexperienced defenders bring to the table. The club has enough Allocation Money to bring in a top talent, but the Pride could also opt to play their kids. Both Cosme and Hansen have a lot of upside and were highly regarded in their respective draft classes. But as it stands right now, of those center backs on the roster, only Montefusco has played an NWSL match. Madril at least has some pro experience overseas.
Orlando will miss Lawrence’s physical presence — likely for the entire 2023 season. If the club expected her to start, that might force a signing the Pride didn’t expect. At least the Pride are well equipped to make that move.