Sydney Leroux and Mikayla Cluff push Pride to 2-1 win over Courage

Mikayla Cluff scored her first NWSL regular-season goal on Wednesday. (Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

The Orlando Pride exploded in the first half get past the North Carolina Courage 2-1 on Wednesday.

North Carolina is still down several key players to injury and COVID-19 protocols, which led to the postponement of their game against Gotham last week. The Pride also shuffled their lineup to allow for some players to get some rest.

Sydney Leroux got things started in the fourth minute off a deflection from a shot by Mikayla Cluff.

The Pride have now gotten a goal within the first five minutes in both of their regular season road games. The other early goal also came from Leroux, in the third minute against Angel City FC.

“It’s huge,” Cluff said about the early goals. “We talked about the big moments in the game and the times that we let them get shifted. The first five minutes of the game is some of the biggest parts. So it’s nice when we’re able to come out and get a strong start.”

The Courage had chances throughout the first half, but it was the Pride who managed to double their lead in the 44th minute. Cluff found the back of the net this time, scoring her first NWSL regular-season goal.

Several more chances for both teams came in the second half, but the Courage didn’t record their first shot of the half until the 75th minute. Eventually, in the 85th minute, they got one as Brianna Pinto brought the team within one.

The Courage wouldn’t find the back of the net again, however, and have yet to win a game in the regular season. Orlando, meanwhile, sits in second place in the league, two points behind San Diego, which sits atop the standings.

Goalkeeper Erin McLeod, who signed a contract extension with the team Thursday, faced 10 shots and made one save in the game.