Junior defender Riley Orr has already made her mark for the Charlotte 49ers this season. After coming off of an extremely strong performance in a win over Longwood and against VCU, Orr had the honor of C-USA Defensive Player of the Week bestowed upon her, the first time since 2014 that a Charlotte 49er has received this title.
In her first year at Niner Nation, Orr was selected for All-Conference USA third team and made the All-Conference USA Freshman team. She would go onto to be a key player in her team’s backfield during her sophomore campaign, starting in 13 of the 16 matches that she played.
In the conference championship, Orr would put in a critical PK late game that would bring the 49ers close to a back to back championship run. When asked about her upbringing, and how exactly soccer and athletics came into the picture for her, this is what she had to say.
“Well, I started playing soccer when I was about five years old. I took it up after my brother because I was always dragged to his sporting events, and he was big into soccer,” said Orr. “I just feel like I kind of followed in his footsteps.”
Orr, a Mooresville native, played soccer at Lake Norman High where she helped lead her program to a 63-6-3 record during her time there. She also helped her team collect three conference titles during her high school career at Lake Norman, and was selected as her team’s defensive MVP.
She was selected as an NCCA East-West All-Star and competed on the west team, while also receiving Honors from the NCSCAA as an All-State player. With the Charlotte 49ers, Orr’s energy and leadership have blossomed and grown not from her raw talent, which she has possessed since her days at Lake Norman, but from her experience on the collegiate level. Orr’s role, as well as the team’s role together has grown since she first stepped onto Transamerica Field.
“Well freshman year, I feel like we really didn’t have any expectations coming in. We just kind of gave it our all throughout the season, and we managed to come out as C-USA champions. Now as we’re getting older and evolving, we’re just progressing as a team and getting better and better each day.”
Along with the team goals and relationships, the leadership has developed quite a bit as well.
“Off the field, I feel like I’ve become closer with teammates and I’ve done a lot more off the field with teammates than freshman year,” she said. “I don’t know how to explain it, we’ve just become closer as a team. Especially since my freshman year, I was kind of quiet.”
The 2017 season ended in dramatic fashion, with the lady 49ers fighting their way to the top of Conference USA play once again. Head Coach John Cullen had the opportunity to do something with his girls that many other programs wouldn’t, the chance to be back to back champions.
At the end of the night, penalty kicks would be the deciding factor, and the 49ers would end the match scoreless against the North Texas Mean Green. Coming off of a high-intensity championship game in that manner, Orr and teammates worked hard in the offseason.
“My offseason, I just trained a lot with Megan and a few other teammates just running on the track and playing WPSL,” Orr said.
Orr currently sits at one goal and one assist in the four games she has played this season.
The Charlotte 49ers will take on the Rice Owls at home on Sunday, Sept. 16 at 1 p.m.