The Orlando Pride returned to Exploria Stadium for the first time since 2019 — but similar to last weekend, a late goal in the second half proved to be costly.
With much of the match in a deadlock heading into the final 10 minutes of the game, and the Pride dominating offensively for most of it, NJ NY Gotham FC managed score a goal against the run of play to power towards a 1-0 victory on Wednesday night in the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup.
“Extremely frustrating result,” said Orlando head coach Marc Skinner after the game. “We got suckered into a very good counter attack, which in this league isn’t it in a nutshell but if you don’t take the opportunity to score when you’re on top, there’s always an opportunity for the opposition to force an error, or to force a kind of focus mistake and obviously they get an opportunity at the end and they finish it well so it’s a good smash-and-grab win for Gotham but I think it’s important that we took a step forward in terms of we were better in much more parts of our games in terms of the press was better at times, and it was a progression in the right step towards a team that that’s relatively new to playing together.”
The game was very different to the one Orlando played last weekend during a 2-2 draw at Racing Louisville. After the first 25 minutes, the Pride dominated the match all the way through, before conceding to Paige Monaghan’s opener late in the second half.
In the 12th minute, a handball inside the box from Konya Plummer was called and Gotham were awarded a penalty kick. Nahomi Kawasumi stepped up to take the penalty, but her opportunity was denied by Ashlyn Harris to keep the game leveled.
Despite a scoreless first half, the Pride outshot Gotham 9-2, totaling a game-high of 17 shots through the 90 minutes.
Sydney Leroux had a trio of chances during the first 45 minutes that weren’t converted, including a golden opportunity in the 38th minute, when she had a one-on-one chance denied by NJ-NY goalkeeper Dijana Haracic.
Leroux had two more shots that followed in the 42nd minute and moments before halftime when both chances were denied by Gotham’s backline.
Gotham finally broke the deadlock in the 79th minute when Ifeoma Onumonu was able to whip in a cross into the box, finding Paige Monaghan on the back post, to tap the ball past Harris and give the visitors the 1-0 lead.
The Challenge continues for the Orlando Pride next week when they host the Washington Spirit at Exploria Stadium on Wednesday, April 21. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. and will televise on Paramount+.
79′ – Paige Monaghan, assisted by Ifeoma Onumonu (NJ-NY)
Here’s how the Pride lined up
Orlando Pride XI: Ashlyn Harris; Ali Riley, Phoebe McClernon, Konya Plummer, Ali Krieger; Jade Moore, Marisa Viggiano (Abi Kim, 84′), Courtney Petersen (Erika Tymrak, 73′); Sydney Leroux, Taylor Kornieck, Marta.
Substitutes: Gabby English, Britney Wilson, Chelsee Washington, Ally Haran, Carrie Lawrence, Toni Pressley.
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