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Orlando Pride striker Sydney Leroux says 2018 was probably hardest season of her life

Orlando Pride striker Sydney Leroux celebrates after scoring a goal during the Washington Spirit at the Orlando Pride NWSL soccer game at Orlando City Stadium on Saturday, July 7, 2018. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel)

Orlando Pride striker Sydney Leroux is just excited to play in another match.

Regardless of whether the Pride beat Sky Blue FC on Saturday, Orlando’s NWSL side won’t make the playoffs. The Pride (8-9-6, 30 points) were eliminated two weeks ago with a loss to the Chicago Red Stars. Still, Leroux — who has battled illness and a concussion this season — wants to be back in the match-day 18.

“Every single game, you treat as your last,” Leroux said. “Especially for me this season, I’m just very excited to play. Regardless, I think we’re all going out … we want to win.

“I think we all have that same feeling in one way or another. We definitely have to come together this last game and get a win, for sure, and finish the season off on the right foot.”

Leroux is still the Pride’s top goal-scorer (six goals in 19 matches) despite missing almost every match in August. She played roughly 25 minutes in the Pride’s 3-0 loss to the North Carolina Courage on Aug. 19 before she suffered a concussion. It was Leroux’s first match back after missing weeks – and two games – with an undisclosed illness.

She missed the Pride’s 3-1 loss to the Red Stars, which ended Orlando’s playoff hopes, because of the concussion. Missing that many games when the Pride were desperate for points is something that weighs on Leroux.

The Pride are winless in their last five matches and have lost three consecutive games.

It’s a small sample size, but in the four matches Leroux has missed this season, including a 4-3 loss to the Courage on May 23, the Pride are 0-3-1 (1 point).

“Probably the hardest season of my life,” she said. “It’s was difficult. I’ve been out the entire month of August, and then coming back and getting the concussion was awful timing, especially for the playoff push. Yeah, I feel bad and I’m sad that I missed out on such an important part of the season.”

Like coach Tom Sermanni and the rest of Orlando’s roster, Leroux has wondered what’s gone wrong this season because the roster was loaded with so much talent. She said the team is looking to finish a rough year on a high note on the road against Sky Blue (0-17-6, 6 points).

“At the end of the day, we didn’t get the job done,” Leroux said. “It’s unfortunate, but it’s on us. A lot of it’s on us and how we kind of went about the season. We dropped really important games that we should have won. We’re the situation that we’re in.

“We hope to show the team that we’re supposed to be and that everyone thought we were going to be and we know we can be and we just fell short. Hopefully, on Saturday, that won’t happen.”

Leroux said she’s already looking at ways she can improve in 2019. 

“I think we need to step away and we need to get back to … something,” Leroux said. “Something different. I’m excited for next season. I want to score more goals and I want to continue to help the Pride. So, hopefully, I can do that.”

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