Orlando Pride Fall 4-2 to Carolina in NWSL Challenge Cup play

Orlando, Florida, USA, April 16, 2022, Orlando Pride Midfielder Mikayla Cluff #16 makes a header to get the ball out of the way in the first half at Exploria Stadium. (Photo Credit: Marty Jean-Louis)

ORLAND, FL – The Orlando Pride (0-4-1, 1 point) lost to the Carolina Courage (4-1, 1 point) by a score of 4-2 at Exploria Stadium in Orlando.

Darian Jenkins scored both points for the Pride after the Courage netted 3 goal in the first three minutes of the match.

This was Jenkins second multi-goal match since 2019 when she did it against the Pride, of all teams, as a member of the Seattle Reign.

“A little disappointed because you see what we can do when we have a little urgency and confidence and are courageous on the ball” said Pride head coach Amanda Cromwell “so coming out how we did, we looked a little bit scared. We looked a little bit timid, we weren’t communicating and putting enough pressure on the ball or shifting well. They [North Carolina] came out buzzing, that’s what they do, so it shouldn’t have been a surprise but as coaches we have to look at it and see how we could have prepared our team better. As players, we have to play 90 minutes. We’ve put together a lot of good parts of games, but that’s not going to win us games. We have to put together a complete 90 minutes.”

The opening goal of the match started with alittle help from the Pride.

In the 3rd minute, a cross from Merritt Mathias from the left side bouncing into the area and deflecting off Pride defender Megan Montefusco into the back of the net.

Orlando, Florida, USA, April 16, 2022, Orlando Pride Goalkeeper Anna Moorhouse #21 misses the ball in the first half at Exploria Stadium. (Photo Credit: Marty Jean-Louis)

Three minutes later, North Carolina doubled the advantage, this time with Jaelene Daniels getting on the end of a ball from Taylor Smith for the first time finish for a 2-0 lead in the sixth minute.

Then, after three more minutes passed, Kiki Pickett found Taylor Smith down the right side, who was able to send her shot into the near post to add a third goal on the ninth minute.

Orlando, Florida, USA, April 16, 2022, North Carolina Courage defender Abby Erceg #6 makes a slide tackle during the second half at Exploria Stadium. (Photo Credit: Marty Jean-Louis)

Jenkins managed score back to back goals for the Pride, giving Orlando fans some hope.

In the 15th minute, Leah Pruitt intercepted a pass by North Carolina goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland, who laid the ball off for Darian Jenkins. The Pride forward blasted the ball to the upper left corner for Orlando’s first goal on the night.

The, as they reached the 56th minute, Orlando  halved the deficit with a cross from Celia finding the head of Kerry Abello, who was able to play it across the face of goal, falling to the foot of Jenkins for her second goal of the night.

Carolina added some insurance with a goal by Debinha in the 89th minute, sealing the game for the Courage.

The Pride will close out the Challenge Cup next week at Red Bull Arena, traveling to take on NJ/NY Gotham FC.

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