Host Pride prevails against North Carolina and remains undefeated in the NWSL

By Kyle Foley

Orlando Sentinel correspondent

It was a night of offensive firepower for the Orlando Pride as they got two goals from Barbra Banda to dominate the North Carolina Courage in a thrilling midweek NWSL match on Wednesday.

Three first-half goals were enough for the Pride (4-0-3, 15 points) to defeat the Courage (4-3-0, 12 points) 4-1. The win makes it Orlando's fourth win in a row.

“I'm really pleased with the attitude of the players coming here after playing Washington on the road and with the quick turnaround for tonight's game,” Orlando coach Seb Hines said. “I thought we were really scary in transition and it was really pleasing to be in the game in the first half.”

The Pride opened the scoring in the 29th minute when striker Banda drove past her defenders and delivered a perfect pass to Ally Watt, who coolly slotted it in.

In the 40th minute, Watt found Banda right in front of goal and the Zambian striker had no problem getting past Courage goalkeeper Casey Murphy and making the score 2-0.

Banda is the first player in NWSL history to record a goal and an assist in each of her first two starts.

“She can hold the ball up, she can run after it, she can do everything and manipulates the defense so well that we always have her as an outlet,” Pride defender Haley McCutcheon said.

“Obviously people are looking at the goals. But she does everything for us and, again, the defensive work is huge and getting better, so we're really happy and excited that she's in our squad because I certainly wouldn't want to defend her.”

Orlando made it 3-0 in the first half with a goal from Julie Doyle in the second minute of first-half stoppage time. Banda's shot was deflected by Murphy straight into the path of the onrushing Doyle, who fired the shot into the net.

North Carolina got the equalizer in the 52nd minute when Emily Hopkins' shot deflected off Orlando defender Emily Sams and past Orlando goalkeeper Anna Moorhouse.

The Pride secured the win in the 77th minute after Banda made an incredible charge through Carolina's defense in the box, firing a shot past several defenders for her second goal of the night.

Orlando's next game is at home against Racing Louisville on Sunday.

If you go…

Pride vs Racing Louisville

When: Sunday at the Inter&Co Stadium, June 6th

How to watch: Bally Sports Sun, NWSL+

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