McDonald brace leads the Courage over Orlando, 4-3
McDonald scores a brace in the Courage's win
McDonald now has 39 NWSL career goals. (Photo credit:
McDonald now has 39 NWSL career goals. (Photo credit:

Jess McDonald scored in the 90th minute to lift the North Carolina Courage over the Orlando Pride 4-3 on a humid night at Orlando City Stadium in Orlando, Florida in front of 3,104 fans.

The Courage improve to 8-0-2 on the season and the Pride are now 3-3-3 in league play. The two teams combined for seven goals, the most scored in an NWSL game this season.

McDonald scored a brace in the win, and now has four goals on the year and 39 NWSL career goals. The game was the first meeting of the season between the Courage and Pride with the Courage playing in their second game in five days and the Pride fresh off a bye in Week 8 play.

The Courage looked like they were going to get on the board early when midfielder Denise O’Sullivan played a through ball into forward Crystal Dunn. Dunn finished it off far post, but the goal was eventually ruled offside.

The Courage were able to get one back, and several as the game went on.

In the 31st minute, Courage defender Merritt Mathias found space down the flank and got a cross off. Her cross bounced out to Courage midfielder McCall Zerboni who got a shot off, but it was deflected off a Pride defender. O’Sullivan flicked the deflected ball on to McDonald who was on the far post and she was able to tap it in for the go-ahead goal in the 32nd minute.

The Courage went into the half up 1-0, but then the Pride came knocking in the 52nd minute.

Chioma Ubogagu scored her fourth goal of the season to tie the game up. Pride forward Marta crossed the ball and Ubogagu was crashing the near post and tapped it in to make it 1-1. 

Just five minutes later, the Courage grabbed back the lead, this time with a goal from forward Debinha. Courage defender Jalene Hinkle made the initial pass up the field that Debinha was able to fight the Pride defense for and strike it cleanly past Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris for the 2-1 lead. Hinkle finished the game with an assist and six total crosses in 60 touches. Hinkle also leads the league in touches (784).

The Courage extended their lead just minutes later with a Sam Mewis goal in the 62nd minute. Dunn played a service into the box and Mewis got her head on it for her second goal of the year. While Harris was able to get a hand on the header, the ball went over the line for the 3-1 lead.

Then the Pride decided to keep things interesting at home, and pulled one back in the 65th minute thanks to an Alanna Kennedy header goal. Kennedy finished off of a corner kick from Christine Nairn. Nairn earned her third assist of the year on the play.

The Pride were in stride, and made a key sub in the 75th minute in Rachel Hill. Hill entered the game, and just eight minutes later scored her second goal of the year.

Marta earned her second assist of the night in the equalizer. The forward beat Mewis and Mathias down the left flank and crossed the ball into the box where Hill was crashing far post. Hill hit it one-time to even the scoreboard at 3-3.

Neither side was going down without a fight, and in the 90th minute who other than McDonald to score the game-winner. Hinkle played a long service over the Pride’s defense that found McDonald crashing the net. McDonald put it away to score her second goal of the night and give the Courage their eighth win of the season. McDonald, in addition to four goals this season is also tied for first in the league with assists (3). She finished the game with a team-high seven shots with four on target.

The possession was close on the night with the Courage holding a slightly higher advantage at 51.3% to the Pride’s 48.7%. The Courage had 26 shots off with nine on target and the Pride had seven shots off with three on frame. The passing accuracy was also neck-in-neck with the Courage at 70.2% and the Pride at 69.5%.

The Pride will be back in action on Saturday when they visit Toyota Park to play the Chicago Red Stars and the Courage will look to stay undefeated on the year when they visit Providence Park to face the Thorns next week on Wednesday, May 30.

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