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Orlando Pride’s Toni Pressley works to be good teammate on, off pitch

Orlando players Emily van Egmond (5), Toni Pressley (3), and Rachel Hill (15) walk onto the pitch before the Houston Dash at Orlando Pride NWSL soccer game at Orlando City Stadium on Wednesday, June 27, 2018. Houston won the game 2-1. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel)

The Orlando Pride get breakfast before training and lunch afterward, so players aren’t necessarily hurting for food options.

If all else fails, they’ve got a teammate who would be happy to serve up a new dish.

Toni Pressley’s cooking abilities aren’t a secret. She’s impressed teammates and coach Tom Sermanni with her vegan recipes, and she’s frequently looking to cook up something new.

The most likely candidate for her cooking experiments is her roommate, goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer. But other Pride members frequently congregate at Pressley’s home for food, fellowship and the most recent episode of The Bachelorette, which aired its season finale on Aug. 6.  

“We always have a lot of fun together,” Pressley said. “We have a great group here and you can always joke around. You can be serious, too, but everyone’s super fun to be around. We have a great group and I think that’s really special here.”

“When I can, I like to entertain. I think it’s because I like to cook. Whenever we’re not doing anything, I think me and Hayley, whether it’s getting people over for a show or starting a new one or cooking or something, I think we just like to be together as much as we can outside of training.”

Pressley recently served dishes to the public, leading a vegan baked goods pop-up at Craft & Common coffee shop. She has another event planned for September.

Pressley and Kopmeyer met while playing for Canberra United in the Australian W-League.

“Toni’s a great roommate,” Kopmeyer said.

“She’s wonderful to be around. If you can’t stand being around your roommate, generally, that’s going to be a problem. We get on great. She truly embodies it. She’s a wonderful cook. She’s clean. She’s kind as can be. She has a perfectly well-behaved dog who couldn’t be any sweeter. There are so many things about her that make her an overall awesome person, awesome friend, really good human being.”

Cooking skills and hospitality aside, Pressley is also doing what she can to impact the Pride’s season on the pitch. Orlando is in a battle for the final NWSL playoff spot and before the club’s 2-0 loss against the Portland Thorns, Pressley said she was hoping to help get the team into a better position in the NWSL table.

She scored her first — and only — goal of the season during the Pride’s 1-1 draw with the Seattle Reign on July 14.

Individually, this season has been a struggle at times for Pressley. She battled a hip flexor injury earlier this year. She didn’t travel with the club during its 5-2 victory over the Chicago Red Stars in May and focused on rehabbing the injury before it got worse.

“I just knew that I had to focus a bit better on some things  and get myself back practicing with the group and hopefully get a chance [to get] in the team,” Pressley said. “I’ve been healthy since then and hopefully I’ll – knock on wood – stay healthy.

Kopmeyer said the living room she shares with Pressley is a testament to how much Pressley wanted to recover from her hip flexor injury. She added Pressley is the “type of person you’d want on any team.”

“She takes care of herself, whether she’s healthy or recovering from something,” Kopmeyer said. “She’s in the training room early. She’s getting massages. She’s getting worked done on her legs. Our living room’s got foam rollers, balls, all this stuff and it’s not uncommon – if we throw on a show – to see her rolling out.

“She’s truly out here for the group and the good results for the group. She wants to play and she wants to go in and help the team and better the team. She’ll fit in anywhere. She’ll play any position. She’ll do whatever’s asked of her because she wants to be out there and she wants to see the team succeed and she wants to be a part of it.”

Plus, Pressley has been deployed in multiple roles for the Pride, from central defensive midfielder to centerback to left back.

“It’s nice to be in talks and questions, being able to play able to play a different few roles here, but I think you never get quite comfortable in one place,” she said. “You want to be on the field either way.

“Personally, I think it’s been a little tough playing a few different roles, but I kind of embrace that and just try to keep a strong mindset and look to contribute what I can to the team.”

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