Coming off back-to-back losses, it took a bit of magic from Marta to secure a much-needed 2-1 win for the Orlando Pride over the Washington Spirit on Saturday night at Orlando City Stadium.
After conceding first, Orlando responded with a goal from Sydney Leroux before halftime, and that followed with Marta’s 86th minute strike being the difference in the match.
“I’m really proud of the players tonight. It was a really tight game in the end in the scoreline but we had seven good chances to score in the first 12 minutes,” head coach Tom Sermanni said after the match. “It’s important when you get those chances that, if you take one or two of them it gives you that little barrier and a little bit of respite because you know at some stage in this league teams are going to come into the game and they’re going to create chances and that’s exactly what Washington did. They consolidated a little bit and then got that opening goal, which made life obviously a lot more difficult then. The players deserve a lot of praise for coming back, keep plugging away, keep playing the way that we wanted to play and I think we did enough to win the game and we deserved to win the game.”
The game started with the Pride creating most of the chances, but much like their game against Houston the previous week, the visitors struck first. In the 26th minute off a corner, Ashley Hatch headed in the ball across the face of goal and into the far post.
Orlando then began to search for an equalizer, which they were able to find just as the first half entered stoppage time. Alanna Kennedy was able to feed Sydney Leroux in on goal with a through ball towards the end line. Leroux got on it, took a touch to her right and fired a shot towards the near post, beating former Pride goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe. The goal not only leveled the game at 1-1, but it put Leroux as the leader for the team in goals scored on the season.
The second half had some close calls for Orlando, but nothing beating Bledsoe, who tied her season high with 10 saves on the night.
The match also saw the return of midfielder Camila in the 65th minute. It was her first appearance since tearing her ACL and spraining her MCL in the final regular season game last September.
As Orlando continued to search for a winner with less than five minutes to go in the match, a moment of brilliance from Marta happened in the 86th minute. Leroux threaded a ball down the side for the Brazilian to chase. Taking her time as she worked closer towards goal, Marta faked right and back left, sending two defenders the wrong way, before a blast of a shot came from her preferred left foot, beating Bledsoe and skimming under the crossbar and in, giving the Pride the lead.
Marta’s goal also tied her with Alex Morgan for most goals in club history with 16.
Orlando Pride travel to face the Houston Dash on Wednesday, July 11, at 8:30 p.m. ET at BBVA Compass Stadium Stadium.
How the Pride lined up
Orlando Pride XI: Ashlyn Harris (c); Ali Krieger, Monica, Shelina Zadorsky, Carson Pickett; Alanna Kennedy, Emily van Egmond, Christine Nairn; Sydney Leroux; Marta, Chioma Ubogagu.
Orlando Pride Bench: Haley Kopmeyer, Toni Pressley, Rachel Hill, Kristen Edmonds, Dani Weatherholt, Poliana, Camila.
(Photo Courtesy of Adrian J Photography)
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