Orlando Pride vs. Washington Spirit: Final Score 4-2 as Pride Lose in Challenge Cup
The Pride couldn’t hold onto their early lead, falling 4-2 to the Washington Spirit in the Challenge Cup.
The Orlando Pride (0-1-1, 1 point) continued their 2023 NWSL Challenge Cup campaign with a 4-2 road loss to the Washington Spirit (1-1-0, 3 points). The Pride took an early lead with Tori Hansen’s first professional goal, but the Spirit ended the first half with three unanswered strikes by Lena Silano, Sam Staab, and Marissa Sheva. The Pride got one back right after the break through Ally Watt, but Ashley Sanchez put it away in second-half injury time.
Pride Head Coach Seb Hines used a heavily rotated lineup for this game, replacing every position from the team’s 1-0 win over Racing Louisville FC Saturday night. Kaylie Collins got the start in goal in front of a back line of Brianna Martinez, Caitlin Cosme, Hansen, and Celia. Thais Reiss and Jordyn Listro were the defensive midfielders behind Haley Bugeja, Kerry Abello, and Amanda Allen, with Watt up top.
Seven of the 11 starters for the Pride had made fewer than two appearances this season. Cosme’s four starts this season were the most, but she’s fallen out of favor recently and been replaced by Megan Montefusco in regular season games. The only three players with more than one start in the starting lineup were Cosme, Abello, and Watt, with the latter two starting three games each this season.
“The only way you’re going to be able to manage games is by playing games,” Hines said about his youthful lineup. “And we saw this as an opportunity to play a lot of the players who haven’t been playing minutes in the season.”
The Pride had the first chance of the game when Celia’s cross attempt was blocked out by Maddie Elwell for a corner. After Camryn Biegalski knocked the first corner out of play, the second ended up with Listro, who found Cosme behind the Spirit defense. Unfortunately, the center back’s shot was just wide of the far post.
The Pride won their third corner of the game when Allen’s shot was blocked out of play by Staab. The corner kick by Thais Reiss went into the six-yard box and bounced around until Hansen back-heeled it past Aubrey Kingsbury for her first professional goal.
“Thais played a great ball in and, honestly, I thought I was going to head it in,” Hansen said about her goal. “And then I think I headed it and there was a big jumble. And then the ball was at my feet and I just tapped it with my back heel and it went. So, very happy about that. I’m more of a header scorer, so it’s nice to get one with my feet and a back heel is even better.”
The first chance for the hosts came in the 13th minute when Maddie Elwell sent a cross into the Pride box. Civana Kuhlmann came flying through the air to get her head on the ball, but sent it just over the crossbar.
The Spirit had an even better chance to equalize in the 24th minute when a cross into the Pride box was flicked on by Staab and found the foot of Amber Brooks at the far post. The defender was behind the Pride back line and should’ve gotten her shot on target, but tipped it wide.
The hosts dominated possession in the first half and found their equalizer in the 33rd minute. It started when Abello fouled Chloe Ricketts, giving the Spirit a free kick. The initial ball was cleared and Sheva’s attempt was blocked. It went right to Silano, whose low shot went between the legs of Cosme and past the diving Collins to even the game at 1-1.
Washington felt it should’ve had a penalty in the 36th minute when Kuhlmann got goalside on Martinez. The defender leaned into the forward and both went to the ground. The Spirit players and fans were audibly upset as referee Joshua Encarnacion waved play on.
Washington didn’t dwell on the call, scoring a second goal two minutes later. Martinez fouled Paige Metayer, giving the hosts another set piece. Staab stepped up to take the kick and curled it into the box. It went around the two-player wall and over the arm of Collins to give the Spirit a 2-1 lead.
It was a great goal that gave Collins little chance and Sheva topped that strike just five minutes later. The Pride’s inability to clear again gave the midfielder a look at goal from long distance. Surprisingly, Sheva’s second touch was a shot. It got over the diving Collins and grazed the bottom of the crossbar to give Washington a 3-1 lead just before halftime.
“I think we just started having to defend more. And kudos to the Spirit, they had some really, really great finishes,” Hansen said about conceding the long-range goals. “But we can’t let off the brake and we have to keep going once we do score that goal, because we’re in the driver’s seat when we’re up 1-0, and we let them back into the game. And we’ve got to learn from that.”
“They were some worldies,” Abello said about the three first-half goals from outside of the box. “Sometimes you’ve got to hold your hands up and say dang, that was a really good goal. But I still think that means we need to get some better pressure on them outside of the box.”
It should’ve been 4-1 just two minutes later when Kuhlmann dribbled into the Pride box and played it back for Sheva. Collins came off her line towards Kuhlmann, who drew two defenders, leaving Sheva open with an empty goal in front of her. Fortunately, she hit it wide of the target.
The Pride were fortunate to have the early lead, but the stats were a reflection of how the 45 minutes actually went. The Spirit had more possession (58.5%-41.5%), shots (10-4), shots on target (3-2), crosses (12-8), and passing accuracy (81.4%-71.9%). The Pride had more corners (4-1), with one resulting in their only first-half goal.
“Just to be a little bit more aggressive with our press,” Hines said about his halftime message. “I think there was moments where we allowed Washington to dictate the play. And that’s okay in certain moments, certain areas, but now we’re down 3-1. We have to start putting pressure on them. Start creating turnovers and being threatening in the attack.”
The Pride made one halftime change, bringing Summer Yates on for Bugeja and the rookie made an immediate impact. In the 49th minute, the midfielder won the ball from Kuhlmann from behind and sent a long pass forward for Watt behind the Spirit back line. Watt handled the ball well and played it past Kingsbury to get the Pride back within a goal.
“We came out on fire,” Hansen said about the early second-half goal. “Obviously, being down 3-1 at halftime is not something you want to go into halftime doing, but we believed in each other and we came out. Summer Yates, great player, played an amazing ball to Ally. It was a great finish and it kind of shifted the momentum towards us.”
It looked like the Spirit might get that goal back in the 53rd minute when a Biegalski shot was tipped by Collins. It went right to Silano to the right of goal, but the flag went up for offside.
Aiding the Pride in staying in the game was a halftime substitution by the Spirit. Staab’s set pieces caused problems for the Pride defense in the first half, but she was replaced by Tara McKeown at halftime. The Pride continued to give up free kicks, but they were falling into the arms of Collins.
As the game crossed the hour mark, both teams made changes. The Spirit went to their all-time leading goal scorer Ashley Hatch, who replaced Kuhlmann. Meanwhile, Hines made his second and third changes of the game. In the 61st minute, Maliah Morris made her second professional appearance, coming on for Allen. For more experience, Erika Tymrak came on in the 66th minute for Reiss.
The Spirit had their second decent chance of the half in the 71st minute when Silano played the ball back for Sanchez, who had just come on for Nicole Douglas. The Washington star tapped the ball to her right and shot towards goal, but the shot was blocked.
Looking for an equalizing goal, Hines made his final substitution in the 76th minute an attacking one, bringing on Messiah Bright for Celia.
The Pride almost had a chance in the 82nd minute when a long ball was sent into the box for Bright. But Kingsbury did well to come out strong and snatch it out of the air. A minute later, Bright attempted to send Watt behind the Spirit defense. Watt was unable to keep control, but was deemed offside anyway.
Four minutes into second-half injury time, the Spirit put the game away. Collins came way out of her box to the right of goal to clear the ball away, but she sent it directly to Sanchez. The Spirit star quickly played the ball towards the far post of the empty goal. Collins spirited back to her net and might’ve gotten a touch to it, but the U.S. international extended the score to 4-2, putting the game away.
It was a deserved result based on the performances of both teams. Washington had more possession (58.8%-41.2%), shots (18-7), shots on target (4-3), crosses (27-13), and passing accuracy (74.5%-61.5%). The Pride had more corners (6-5), but not enough possession or chances to get a result.
“Disappointed,” Hines said after the game. “You know, you never want to lose the game by (allowing) four goals. It’s a hard one because we took the lead, Tori scored a terrific goal, and you go 1-0 up early on in the game and you’re looking for the team to manage it from that moment and I don’t think we did. I don’t think we managed the game too well. I think we showed a little bit of naivety within the team, and we allowed them to get back into it. The goals were disappointing. And I don’t know how many goals they’ll score like that in the season, let alone in one game. But we have to learn from it. We had a really young team, a team that hadn’t played together. And again, we use every game as a learning moment for us.”
“I’m proud of the team,” Abello added. “We got ahead. We started off strong and they scored some pretty great goals against us. And some of those we can’t do anything about. But I was proud of the way we came out in the second half. It was a winnable game, so it’s frustrating that we didn’t come away with the win or even an equalizer. But at the end of the day, I think we learned a lot and I think that’s the exciting thing about Challenge Cup games is we have so many young players on the field that got a chance to play a full 90 or close to a full 90 and that will only help us going forward.”
The fact that the Pride lost this game wasn’t a surprise after making 11 changes to the starting lineup. However, a familiar situation popped up again at the end of the game. While the team was without its starting goalkeeper and both starting center backs, Sanchez’s last-minute goal was the fifth the team has given up in second-half stoppage time. Even if this one was a different situation because they were chasing the game.
With their midweek Challenge Cup game behind them, the Pride will look to build on the two-game league winning streak when they travel to New Jersey to face NJ/NY Gotham FC Sunday evening.
Orlando Pride vs. NJ/NY Gotham FC NWSL Challenge Cup Game Postponed
The Pride were scheduled to face NJ/NY Gotham FC in New Jersey, but poor air quality has postponed the game until Aug. 9.
Tonight’s NWSL Challenge Cup game between the Orlando Pride and NJ/NY Gotham FC has been postponed by the NWSL. The league released a statement this afternoon stating that poor air quality conditions in the New York metropolitan area was the cause of the postponement. The game will now be played on Aug. 9.
The Pride were originally scheduled to continue their 2023 NWSL Challenge Cup campaign at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ, as they search for their first win of the competition. However, wildfires in eastern Canada have caused deteriorating smoky and hazy conditions that New Jersey residents started experiencing Tuesday evening. Forecasts for Wednesday night showed that conditions were expected worsen, resulting in the postponement of the game.
“The safety of our players, officials, and fans is our top priority,” the NWSL said in a press release. “Following consultation with the NWSL Medical and Operations staff, it was determined that the match could not be safely conducted based on the projected air quality index.”
The scheduling of the game should benefit the Pride. They played Saturday night in a 2-0 loss to the Houston Dash and welcome the Portland Thorns to Exploria Stadium Sunday night. The makeup game comes during a league break for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The Pride play a Challenge Cup game at home on Aug. 4, but don’t play again until they host the Chicago Red Stars on Aug. 20. However, they could be without some key players for that match, depending on who is selected for their respective World Cup squads.
The game on Aug. 9 will still take place at Red Bull Arena at 7:30 p.m. However, rather than being a televised contest on CBS Sports Network, it will now be exclusively on Paramount+ in the United States.
Orlando Pride vs. NJ/NY Gotham FC: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, Match Thread, and More
The Pride look to get their first 2023 NWSL Challenge Cup win as they take on NJ/NY Gotham FC in New Jersey.
[Editor’s note: There is some question as to whether this match will take place tonight with wildfires wreaking havoc with the air quality in the area. The Pride and Gotham FC have been in contact with the NWSL, which is monitoring the situation.]
Welcome to your match thread as the Orlando Pride (0-1-1, 1 point) take on NJ/NY Gotham FC (1-0-1, 4 points) at Red Bull Arena in the NWSL Challenge Cup. This is the first of two Challenge Cup meetings between these two teams, with the second game in Orlando scheduled for June 28.
Here’s everything you need to know about tonight’s game.
The Pride have faced Gotham FC 21 times since joining the NWSL in 2016. They’re 7-8-6 in all competitions and 4-2-4 away from home. In Challenge Cup games, the Pride are 0-2-1 in three games against Gotham and 0-0-1 up north.
This is the second time the two teams have met at Red Bull Arena this year. The first meeting came on May 14 in regular season play. The Pride were the better team and created more chances, but couldn’t find the back of the net and the game ended in a scoreless draw.
The Pride and Gotham met for the first time this season on April 15 at Exploria Stadium. The game looked to be headed for a draw, but Gotham struck twice in second-half injury time. Midge Purce converted a penalty 10 minutes into stoppage time for the latest goal in NWSL history. The attacker then assisted Lynn Williams seven minutes later, setting a new record as the Pride fell 2-0. The Professional Referee Organization stated publicly that the penalty given for a handball on Caitlin Cosme did not meet its standards for being clear and obvious enough for a review, but that won’t change the standings.
The two teams met four times last season, twice in the NWSL regular season and twice in the Challenge Cup. The first game was a Challenge Cup meeting on March 30 at Exploria Stadium. It looked to be heading for a 0-0 draw before Purce scored a late winner. The next meeting was April 23 at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey. Gunny Jonsdottir gave the Pride the lead, but Toni Pressley got tangled up with Ifeoma Onumonu, resulting in a penalty. Anna Moorhouse guessed the right way, but Kristie Mewis put it into the bottom corner, evening the game just before the half. Neither team could find a winner and it ended 1-1.
The teams opened the 2022 NWSL regular season against each other on May 1 in Orlando. After two close match-ups in the preseason, this one was all Gotham as goals by McCall Zerboni, Purce, and Mewis lifted the visitors to a 3-0 win. On Aug. 20, they played for the final time in 2022 at Subaru Park in Chester, PA. Celia and Ally Watt built the Pride a 2-0 lead. Mewis got one back for the hosts, but the Pride held on for a 2-1 win.
The Pride and Gotham also met four times in 2021, with the first coming in the Pride’s inaugural Challenge Cup campaign. On April 14, Paige Monaghan’s goal lifted Gotham to a 1-0 win. The first regular-season game that year came on June 20 in Orlando. The visitors took the lead through Caprice Dydasco, but Courtney Petersen equalized, and the game ended in a 1-1 draw.
On Aug. 29, the teams played at Red Bull Arena. Erika Tymrak’s long-range goal lifted the Pride to a 2-1 win. The teams played one final, high-scoring game on Oct. 9. It was a bad start for the Pride as Gaetane Thiney scored a brace and Purce made it 3-0 late. But the Pride came storming back with goals by Tymrak and Marta, falling just short in a 3-2 final.
The Pride and Gotham were in different groups for the 2020 Fall Series, so the last time they met prior to 2021 was in 2019, when the New Jersey-based club was still called Sky Blue FC. They first met that year on June 22 at Yurcak Field in Piscataway, NJ. Chioma Ubogagu gave the Pride the lead from the penalty spot and Sarah Killion equalized. The difference was a Gina Lewandowski own goal as the Pride won 2-1. On July 20, they met at Exploria Stadium. Marisa Viggiano’s goal won it for the Pride, 1-0. The final game occurred on Sept. 29 in New Jersey. Shelina Zadorsky gave the Pride the lead, but Carli Lloyd equalized in a 1-1 draw.
The teams met three times in 2018, starting on June 16 in Orlando, when a Sydney Leroux brace led the Pride to a 3-2 win. They met again in Orlando on Aug. 5, with the Pride giving up a 1-0 after Marta’s opening goal. But Dani Weatherholt equalized in a 2-2 draw. The final meeting in 2018 came on Sept. 8 in New Jersey — the final game of the season. There was only one goal in this one as Lloyd won it for Sky Blue FC.
The 2017 season saw the Pride and Sky Blue meet three times. The first was May 27 in New Jersey, where the Pride lost 2-1. They met again in New Jersey on June 28 and the Pride won, 3-2. The final meeting was on Aug. 12 in Orlando and the Pride won by its largest margin in team history, beating Sky Blue, 5-0.
The 2016 season was the first time the two teams met, with the inaugural game coming on Sept. 7 in New Jersey. Alex Morgan and Sam Kerr swapped goals in a 1-1 draw. They met again three days later in Orlando, with Sky Blue winning, 2-1.
The Pride scored first in each of their first two Challenge Cup games this year. Ally Watt gave the Pride the lead at Exploria Stadium on April 19 against the North Carolina Courage in the 56th minute. It looked like they would hold on for three points, but Denise O’Sullivan scored nine minutes into second-half injury time to equalize. The second game was against the Washington Spirit at Audi Field and Tori Hansen gave the visitors the lead just 10 minutes into the game. But an onslaught of long-distance goals lifted the Spirit to a 4-2 win.
The Pride look to get their first Challenge Cup win of 2023 tonight in New Jersey. The squad will be heavily rotated, especially with the Portland Thorns coming to town on Sunday night. While the team will still look to bring home the three points, Pride Head Coach Seb Hines will use this game as an opportunity to get playing time for players.
Similar to the Pride, Gotham used arguably its best lineup in the first Challenge Cup game against the Spirit. Lynn Williams’ 56th-minute goal was the difference in a 1-0 result. Gotham heavily rotated its lineup for the second game on May 3, a 1-1 draw with the Courage. It conceded just three minutes into the game, but went for the win by bringing on Kristie Mewis, Ali Krieger, and Williams at halftime. Williams equalized late and Gotham took a point from the game.
Gotham’s plan tonight will likely be similar to its second game. The Pride will need to get a good start to the game, because Hines has shown little interest in bringing regular starters into Challenge Cup games. If the Pride want to get three points, they’ll need to score before Gotham’s attacking starters come on.
“Obviously, (Gotham is) looking to win a game the same as us. Playing them a couple of times, they may change shape, they may change formation depending on the personnel they have, but we have to focus on ourselves,” Hines said about tonight’s opponent. “We’re looking to bounce back from this weekend and get three points and keep getting momentum and getting that ball rolling again. Momentum is such a key factor in a season so getting a win against Jersey will be great for the squad and the players.”
The Pride will play this game without Carrie Lawrence (knee) and Erika Tymrak (ankle). Kaylie Collins (hand) and Amanda Allen (lower leg) are listed as questionable. Gotham will be without Imani Dorsey (excused absence), Sabrina Flores (foot), Kelley O’Hara (ankle), Midge Purce (hip), and Taryn Torres (knee).
Orlando Pride (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Carly Nelson.
Defenders: Celia, Tori Hansen, Caitlin Cosme, Brianna Martinez.
Defensive Midfielders: Jordyn Listro, Kerry Abello.
Midfielders: Haley Bugeja, Thais Reiss, Summer Yates.
Forwards: Julie Doyle.
NJ/NY Gotham FC (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Michelle Betos.
Defenders: Jenna Nighswonger, Ellie Jean, Mandy Freeman, Bruninha.
Midfielders: McCall Zerboni, Nealy Martin, Sinead Farrelly.
Forwards: Svana Ros Gudmundsdottir, Delanie Sheehan, Ifeoma Onumonu.
REF: Greg Dopka.
AR1: Stephen Milhoan.
AR2: Jessica Carnevale.
4TH: Sergii Boiko.
VAR: Daniel Radford.
AVAR: Emma Richards.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7:30 p.m.
Venue: Red Bull Arena — Harrison, NJ.
TV: CBS Sports Network.
Streaming: NWSLsoccer.com (International).
Twitter: For rapid reaction and live updates, follow @TheManeLand and the Orlando Pride’s official Twitter feed (@ORLPride).
Enjoy the match. Go Pride!
Orlando Pride vs. Houston Dash: Final Score 2-0 as Pride Drop Second Straight
The Houston press was too much for the Pride as they drop their second straight game.
The Orlando Pride (3-6-1, 10 points) fell for the second consecutive game, losing to the Houston Dash (4-3-3, 15 points) 2-0 in Texas. Sophie Hirst gave the hosts the lead in the sixth minute and Michelle Alozie doubled the advantage shortly before halftime. They held onto that lead for the entire second half, sending the Pride home with an 0-2-0 road trip.
Pride Head Coach Seb Hines made one change to the team that fell 1-0 to the Chicago Red Stars last weekend. Regular starter Viviana Villacorta returned to the lineup after a game off, replacing Marta. The back four in front of Anna Moorhouse remained the same, with Kylie Strom, Emily Madril, Megan Montefusco, and Haley McCutcheon. Villacorta joined Mikalya Cluff, Adriana, Erika Tymrak, and Kerry Abello in the midfield, and Messiah Bright started up top.
Coming off a game where the Pride dominated and just couldn’t find the back of the net, they were never really in this one. The Houston press created headaches in the first half with the Pride giving up the ball up in their own third on multiple occasions. They also couldn’t create much offensively, failing to challenge Dash goalkeeper Jane Campbell.
The Pride got off to a poor start, conceding in the sixth minute. The hosts got a corner kick when Madril cleared the ball out of play and a second when Abello blocked the first corner out. The ensuing set piece was into the arms of Moorhouse, but the goalkeeper spilled it right in front of goal. Hirst was the first player to the ball, flicking it with the outside of her foot past Moorhouse and in to give the Dash an early 1-0 lead.
They nearly doubled their advantage in the ninth minute when Sophie Schmidt sent Diana Ordonez behind the Pride back line. It was a foot race between Ordonez and Moorhouse to the ball, with the Pride goalkeeper reaching it just before the attacker outside of the box.
A minute later, the Pride had their first good chance of the game. Adriana was sent down the right and towards the end line. She reached the ball before it went out of play, sending it to the penalty spot where Bright was waiting. The striker had her back to the goal, but did well to turn and get off a first-touch shot. Unfortunately, she got under the ball and sent it over the target.
The Dash had a great chance in the 17th minute when Madril gave the ball away to the pressuring Alozie. The forward had Ordonez wide open in the middle of the box, but decided to take it herself. Montefusco did well to close down the attacker, deflecting the shot into the hands of Moorhouse.
The Pride almost had a chance in the 20th minute when Montefusco made a good run into the midfield, breaking the Houston press. She found Tymrak in the center circle, who played it forward for Adriana. However, the Brazilian lost the ball at the top of the box before she could get a shot off.
The Dash appeared to have a great opportunity in the 28th minute when Villacorta gave the ball up in her own third to Joelle Anderson. The midfielder played to Maria Sanchez on the left, who continued it forward to Ordonez. Moorhouse did well to come out and challenge the forward, but the flag went up for offside anyway.
In the 39th minute, Abello was sent down the left by Tymrak. Her deflected cross was punched away by Campbell, but went right to Adriana. The Brazilian flicked it over for Bright, who played it right back to Adriana, but her shot was blocked. Abello ended up with the ball again and beat her defender to find enough space for a shot, but it was deflected into the side of the net.
The second Pride corner of that attack went all the way through for a throw in and the Dash took advantage. Anderson sent a long, low ball forward for Alozie making a run behind the Pride defense. Madril got her foot to it, but not enough to keep it from finding the forward. Strom caught up to her in the box, but Alozie cut back for space and sent it past Moorhouse to give Houston a commanding 2-0 lead.
The hosts had one last first-half opportunity in the 43rd minute when Alozie found Ordonez at the top of the box. The Mexican international was between the two Pride center backs and found enough space to take a shot, but Moorhouse did well to get down and make the stop, keeping the halftime deficit at two goals.
The Pride had more first-half possession (57.2%-42.8%), corners (6-4), crosses (16-10), and passing accuracy (71.8%-67.4%), but the Dash had more shots (6-4) and shots on target (3-0). Most importantly, the hosts had a two-goal lead.
“I told them at halftime that we need to be better on the ball. We were a little bit sloppy, a little bit lackadaisical in our passing details,” Hines said about his halftime speech. “I like to control the game. I don’t mind teams pressing us, because the more they press, the more they commit, the more space that they leave. So, we have to clean that up.”
Hines made one halftime change trying to get his team back into the game, bringing on Marta for Villacorta. The change saw Adriana move outside to her usual position and Abello back alongside Cluff. It was Marta’s 82nd NWSL regular-season appearance with the Pride, passing Ashlyn Harris and Toni Pressley for the most in team history.
The Dash had a chance for their third goal less than a minute into the second half when Ordonez found Anderson in the box. The attacker turned to shoot on goal, but didn’t get much on the attempt and Moorhouse made a relatively easy save.
The Pride should’ve gotten a goal back in the 48th minute when Caprice Dydasco fouled Abello. Adriana’s free kick found the head of Strom wide open and just a few feet in front of goal at the near post. But her header somehow went wide, squandering a golden opportunity to get back into the game.
After making an attacking change at halftime, Hines made a like-for-like substitution in the 57th minute as Julie Doyle came on for Bright.
In the 62nd minute, Sanchez sent Marisa Viggiano towards the end line on the left. Viggiano got a cross off into the box and found the head of Ordonez, who tried to send it towards the far post. But she couldn’t get enough of it and Moorhouse easily collected it.
Montefusco fouled Schmidt in the 64th minute, creating another good chance for the hosts. It looked like Moorhouse had Sanchez’s ball, but she didn’t come out as aggressively as she should’ve, only sending it to the top of the box. It ended up with Hirst at the penalty spot, but her shot was right at Moorhouse.
Immediately after that chance, the Pride made two more changes, bringing on Celia and Ally Watt for Tymrak and Cluff.
It didn’t take long for Watt to get involved as she was sent behind the Dash defense in the 68th minute. The striker’s shot was right to Campbell, but the ball slipped under her arm and rolled towards the goal. The roll was slow enough for Campbell to jump on the ball before it reached the goal line.
In the 71st minute, Adriana made a good run to the top of the Houston box, drawing the defenders and finding Watt wide open on the right. The forward took her second shot of the game, but Campbell made a good stop, pushing it away and the Dash cleared the danger.
Two minutes later, Adriana found Strom on the left and the left back sent a good ball into the box, finding the head of Marta. The Brazilian headed the ball towards the far post, but missed wide.
In the 76th minute, the Pride had a chance when the Dash had trouble clearing the ball out of their box. They briefly got it out, but McCutcheon sent it right back in. Dydasco was the first player to the ball, but her clearance attempt went behind her and into the path of Doyle for a header on goal. It was a strong header, but too close to Campbell.
The Pride made their final change in the 79th minute, when Summer Yates entered the game for Abello.
The Dash seemed fine holding onto their two-goal lead in the final 10 minutes and neither team was able to create solid opportunities. Marta took a shot in the 80th minute, and second-half substitute Ebony Salmon found space for a shot in the 86th minute, but both were right at the goalkeepers.
The Pride had a good chance in the 88th minute when Adriana made a strong run into the box and sent it to Doyle near the penalty spot. The striker slipped as she attempted to shoot, but still put the ball on target. However, Campbell did well to block it away, keeping the deficit at two goals.
As the game entered injury time, the fourth official showed eight minutes, a welcome sight for the Pride. It was mostly due to an injury to Natalie Jacobs, who had to go through a concussion test late in the half before she could be removed from the field and the game could continue.
Despite the eight minutes, the Pride weren’t able to create any good chances. McCutcheon played Celia through four minutes into stoppage time, but it was too far and went out for a goal kick. In the final minute, Adriana attempted a shot from long distance, but it wasn’t any trouble for Campbell, and the Dash held on for a 2-0 win.
Statistically, the game was quite close. The Pride had more possession (55.4%-44.6%), corners (8-4), crosses (27-16), and passing accuracy (69.5%-62.1%). Both teams had 13 shots and Houston put more on target (7-6). But the Pride shots didn’t cause Campbell much trouble, with the team failing to score for the second consecutive game and the third time in four games.
“Today we weren’t the better team, Houston was the better team,” Hines said after the game. “They made it difficult for us, they pressed us really hard, and we looked like we weren’t prepared for that. And that’s the most disappointing thing. You know, we want to play the way that we want to play. We have to dictate the game. We have to control the tempo of the game, and we didn’t do that. And even though we didn’t do the fundamentals, the basics right, we still created chances to score. We’ve gone two games now without scoring and that has to change.”
“It’s not one person’s fault tonight,” Montefusco added. “It was a collective. You know, we can’t point fingers at anybody. We’re a group, we’re a team, and we’ve got to lift each other. We’ve shown what we can do and we have to lean into that. We have to find a way. These games on the road are tough and we know that. And I think going forward, we’re just gonna stick together as a group.”
The Pride will stay on road for the Challenge Cup, taking on NJ/NY Gotham FC Wednesday night at Red Bull Arena. Then they’ll return home for regular-season action, welcoming the league-leading Portland Thorns to Exploria Stadium.
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