It was a tale of two halves for the Orlando Pride, according to Marc Skinner.
The Houston Dash dominated the attack in the the first half, but the Pride looked a different, more focused team in the second half, making a game of it.
But with Kristie Mewis pulling the strings, setting up Shea Groom and Veronica Latsko with their respective goals, the Dash stamped a 2-1 victory over Orlando during the third match of the NWSL Fall Series on Friday at Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee.
“It was an absolute tale of two halves,” Skinner said shortly after the game. “I don’t know how many games have been involved where that’s applied… so we were nowhere near good enough first half, we weren’t brave enough on the football. We didn’t want the football enough.”
“We were running like we were a yard off the off the pace and at half time we spoke about what it what it is to what it means to play for Orlando,” added Skinner. “There was no real tactical kind of adaptation, it was more about the energy and the fire they need to take to wear our jersey, and it just wasn’t present in the first half from the collective.”
The Dash opened the scoring early off a Pride giveaway, which saw Kristie Mewis cross a ball into an unmarked Shea Groom, who headed the ball past Pride goalkeeper Brittany Wilson in the 13th minute.
In the 17th minute, Orlando defender Carrie Lawrence took a ball to her stomach, which resulted in her leaving the game on a stretcher in the 25th minute, with Abby Elinsky coming in as her replacement. Lawrence was later taken to the hospital for precautionary measures.
Kristie Mewis notched her second assist of the game in the 29th minute after a through-ball pass connected with Veronica Latsko, who rounded past Wilson before doubling Houston’s lead 2-0.
The Dash dominated the first half statistically, outshooting the Pride 11-0 with four of those shots converted on target. Houston also had 63% possessional of the ball during the first 45 minutes.
As the second half started, the Pride began to show a bit more grit on the ball, producing five shots with three of them on target.
That grit and grind resulted in Sydney Leroux, moments into the start of the second half, putting the Pride on the scoresheet, scoring in the 47th minute after finishing a ball from Abby Elinsky to reduce Houston’s lead, 2-1.
“We came off the field really mad,” said Leroux on the end of the first half. “I was very mad, there were other players who very mad, our coach very mad. I think you saw in the first half a team that wasn’t really up to any challenge, and we came together at halftime and we said ‘you have to play for yourself, you have to feel that that fire and you got to just go for it,’ we have nothing to lose, you know this this year for Orlando Pride, if you haven’t been in it, you have no idea what we’ve gone through.”
The goal was Leroux’s first goal since July 12, 2018, ironically, against the Dash at BBVA Stadium.
Pride captain and goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris did not play on Friday because the loss of her grandmother. Orlando was also without Jordyn Listro, who was serving a one-game suspension for yellow card accumulation.
Orlando finishes its run in the NWSL Fall Series on Oct. 17 against the North Carolina Courage at Exploria Stadium. The match will kickoff at 4 p.m. and will televise nationally on CBS.
13′ – Shea Groom, assisted by Kristie Mewis (HOU)
29′ – Veronica Latsko, assisted by Kristie Mewis (HOU)
47′ – Sydney Leroux, assisted by Abby Elinsky (ORL)
How the Pride lined up
Orlando Pride XI: Brittany Wilson; Carrie Lawrence (Abby Elinsky, 25′), Ali Krieger (c), Konya Plummer (Toni Pressley, 46′), Courtney Petersen; Marisa Viggiano, Kristen Edmonds, Chelsee Washington (Savanah Uveges, 80′), Deneisha Blackwood (Kate Howarth, 66′), Sydney Leroux, Marta.
Pride Bench: Ally Haran, Zandy Soree.
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