Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride vs. Washington Spirit: Final Score 3-2 as Pride Win Third Straight

Despite a second-half goalkeeper error and a red card, the Pride held on to beat the Washington Spirit away from home.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

The Orlando Pride (3-0-3, 12 points) won their third consecutive game and second away from home with a hard-fought 3-2 win over the Washington Spirit (4-2-0, 12 points) at Audi Field. Angelina, Barbra Banda, and Summer Yates scored for the Pride while the Spirit goals came from Ouleye Sarr and an Anna Moorhouse gaffe that was credited to Ashley Hatch.

Pride Head Coach Seb Hines had a weakened team for this game with Marta and Adriana both out injured. However, Rafaelle returned to the starting lineup and Banda got her first start for the team. The inclusion of Rafaelle saw Abello move to her natural attacking position and Kylie Strom back to her usual left back position.

The back line in front of Moorhouse was Strom, Rafaelle, Emily Sams, and Bri Martinez. Angelina and Haley McCutcheon were in the defensive midfield behind an attacking midfield of Julie Doyle, Yates, and Abello with Banda up top.

Washington dominated the first 20 minutes of the game and it appeared as though it would be a long night for the Pride. But Orlando held much more possession after Angelina’s goal and looked much more threatening in the attack. Up 3-1, a Moorhouse mistake got the Spirit back into the game and they struggled to hold onto a 3-2 lead when Martinez was sent off for a second yellow. But they withstood the constant attack by the opposition in second-half stoppage time, taking home all three points.

The hosts had the first decent attack in the second minute when Trinity Rodman received the ball from Sarr and carried it towards the end line. However, Martinez did well to keep up and knocked the ball out for a corner kick. Andi Sullivan’s ensuing set piece didn’t amount to anything and the Pride were able to clear.

In the ninth minute, Paige Metayer was sent down the right by Rodman. Cutting inside to beat Sams, Metayer passed it over for Sarr, but the striker slipped while attempting to shoot and sent the ball directly to Moorhouse.

Rodman was again involved in a chance for the Spirit in the 16th minute. However, this time it was an individual effort. Receiving the ball on the left, the midfielder cut inside for some space and fired a shot between two defenders from the top corner of the box. It was an ambitious attempt, but the attacker struck it well and forced Moorhouse into a diving stop.

The Pride had their first decent chance in the 19th minute when Angelina lifted the ball into the Spirit box looking for Doyle, who was making a run. Unfortunately, the cross was too close to Spirit goalkeeper Aubrey Kingsbury, who easily collected it.

The Spirit dominated the first 20 minutes, but the visitors scored first against the run of play in the 22nd minute. It started on the right when Yates won the ball from Hal Hershfelt. The midfielder sent it down the right, where Banda beat her defender, retrieving the ball before it reached the end line. The Zambian international quickly sent a cross toward the penalty spot where Angelina was darting in. The Brazilian met the ball just as it hit the ground, striking it beyond the reach of Kingsbury and into the corner to give the Pride the 1-0 lead.

“It was a good play because I made an effort to make that play,” Banda said about her assist.
“And I think definitely my teammates were aware that maybe I ought to put a cross, which definitely I did and it was so amazing.”

“It’s a great ball from Barbara to Ang,” Hines added. “And it was a great finish.”

The Spirit immediately went forward after the restart, looking to take back control of the game. Sarr got a shot off in traffic, but it was blocked. The rebound went right to Sullivan and the defensive midfielder fired from long distance, sending it well over the target.

Rodman had been quiet after the Pride goal, but made a good run in the 36th minute that included a give-and-go with Croix Bethune. Rodman sent a cross for Bethune that was intercepted by Angelina. However, Hershfelt took possession and shot from outside of the box, sending the ball wide.

In the 38th minute, chaos in the Spirit box nearly resulted in a second goal for the Pride. It started when Annaig Butel beat Banda to the ball and knocked it out for a corner kick. The ensuing set piece was just over the fingers of Kingsbury and landed at Abello with her back to goal. Unfortunately, she didn’t have room to turn, dropping it to McCutcheon at the top of the box instead. McCutcheon’s shot was blocked by Hershfelt, but Yates sent the ball back into the box and, after bouncing around some more, ended up with Banda, who got a shot off. However, her attempt was just over the crossbar.

Shortly after the Pride narrowly missed out on doubling their lead, Washington found its equalizer. Sams lost the ball near midfield to Bethune, who quickly played it forward for Sarr. Rafaelle slid in an attempt to intercept the pass, but missed and Sarr was in on goal. Moorhouse looked indecisive about coming out, enabling Sarr to chip the goalkeeper and even the game at 1-1.

A minute later, the Spirit had a chance to take the lead when Rodman sent Bethune behind the Pride defense on the right. The midfielder opened up her body in an attempt to curl the ball inside the far post, but it was too close to Moorhouse, who was able to catch the attempt.

In the 43rd minute, Sullivan sent the ball forward for Sarr, who was defended by McCutcheon. Entering the box, McCutcheon attempted a tackle that resulted in Sarr going to the ground as she sent the ball across the goal mouth. After a check by the video assistant referee, Rebecca Pagan went to the monitor to check for a potential penalty, but determined the play was offside.

That was the final chance for either team as the game went into halftime even at 1-1. After 45 minutes of play, Washington had more possession (56%-44%), shots (7-5), and shots on target (5-4), and better passing accuracy (79%-76%). The Pride had more crosses (5-4), and both teams took one corner kick.

“First half, it was real quiet and we kind of let the crowd take over. But in the locker room we were like, we’ve got to talk, we’ve got to demand more of each other,” Doyle said about the mood at halftime. “We’ve got to throw in some tackles. I think we’re just, including myself, being way too soft first half.”

It didn’t take long for the Pride to strike in the second half. In the 49th minute, Martinez sent a cross into the box that went just over the head of Yates. Abello recovered the ball on the far side and attempted a cross, but Gabby Carle blocked it out of play.

The ensuing corner kick by Yates was to the near post where it found Doyle. The midfielder flicked it on for Banda who headed the ball in for her first NWSL goal and gave the Pride a 2-1 lead.

“Actually, I didn’t expect it,” Banda said about her goal. “But I think it went according to the plan from training because I think I took the position I was told to pick and I definitely picked that spot and I put the ball in the back of the net.”

“It’s something we’ve been working on in practice and it was working,” Doyle said about the play designed on the training field. “Summer said she meant to play me the ball near post. She saw that I was wide open and I know I just got to flick it in into the squad and I was just so happy for Barbara to finish that because that wasn’t an easy finish and she made it look easy.”

Yates nearly had a goal of her own in the 53rd minute when Angelina sent a dangerous cross into the box. The second-year midfielder made a great run through three defenders, but the cross was too close to Kingsbury, who grabbed it.

A minute later, the Pride had an even better chance when they won a penalty. It started when a poor clearance was won by Yates in the box. Her first touch was controlled by Banda, who took a dribble to beat Butel. The center back attempted a clumsy challenge, taking the forward down. Pagan didn’t hesitate to point to the spot, giving the Pride an excellent chance to take a two-goal lead.

Angelina initially held the ball near penalty spot, but handed it off to Yates to take the kick. Despite her youth, Yates was very confident, sending Kingsbury the wrong way and putting a strong shot into the left corner to give her team a commanding 3-1 lead.

Up two goals, Hines made his first change of the game in the 64th minute. After another excellent performance, Yates was replaced by forward Ally Watt.

In the 65th minute, the Spirit got one back, though not really through their own efforts. Hatch, a regular starter that came on at halftime, sent a long, looping shot towards the far post. It was an easy play for Moorhouse and the goalkeeper should’ve caught the ball. But it went right through her hands and into the far side of the goal, cutting the deficit in half.

Rodman had a chance to equalize in the 68th minute when she received the ball on the right from Casey Krueger. The attacker dribbled inside against McCutcheon, who didn’t close her down, and got a shot off. However, Sams did well to come over and block the shot over the goal.

In the 74th minute, Doyle found Banda on the left. The forward beat substitute Anna Heilferty and sent a cross across the mouth of the goal, but nobody in orange was there to get on the end of it. Watt initially won possession and lost it to Krueger. However, she quickly won it back and played it to Doyle, who immediately laid it off for Banda. The striker sent another ball towards goal but right to Kingsbury.

Hines made two more changes in the 81st minute and they were defensive ones. Defenders Carrie Lawrence and Cori Dyke replaced midfielders Angelina and Doyle. It was Dyke’s professional debut and Lawrence’s first appearance since tearing her ACL prior to the 2023 NWSL season.

“Carrie’s one of the longest serving players here and it’s a big moment for her,” Hines said after the game. “I know she’s gone through a lot all of last year missing out, watching the team go out there and perform, and just biding her time, being patient. And we felt today was the right moment for her to come on and make a difference. And it’s a big moment for her. We’re super proud of her and it takes a lot of dedication to put yourself in that position. So yeah, we’re pleased with her and also there’s Cori Dyke getting her debut as well, because I know she’s been patiently waiting for a moment and her opportunity.”

As the clock ticked past 90 minutes, a Pride corner kick was cleared out. Rodman sprinted out on the break, chased down by Martinez. The defender grabbed at her and Rodman went down. Since Martinez was playing on a yellow, Pagan took her time to consider her decision, but eventually pulled out the card. The second booking for Martinez meant the Pride were down to 10 players for the 11 minutes of stoppage time.

Hines made his final change in the sixth minute of stoppage time. It was a defensive move as left back Celia came into the game, replacing Abello.

The Spirit nearly found an equalizer in the seventh minute, when Hatch hit the crossbar on the half valley. The ball bounced to Metayer, who beat Sams to it, but her header was over the goal.

In the 10th minute of stoppage time, a ball into the box was flicked on by the head of Sullivan. Rodman got her head onto it and put it on goal, but couldn’t get much on the attempt, enabling Moorhouse to make the easy stop.

It was a long time to hold onto a one-goal lead with 10 players and they almost conceded an equalizer, but the final whistle gave the Pride a 3-2 win.

“I trust them. They’ve been through enough scenarios like that,” Hines said about holding onto the one-goal lead with 10 players. “It’s a mentality. You have to embrace it. You have to take the bull by its horns, it’s coming. You know that Washington are a direct team, they’re gonna push numbers forward. They’re going to be very physical and I thought for some periods of the game, we stood up to that challenge. Certainly at the end with 10 players and your backs are against the wall and you’re having to deal with the directness and putting your body on the line and I felt the players did a terrific job in handling that.  We obviously rode our luck as well with them hitting the crossbar, but you need a little bit of luck at times as well.”

At full time, Washington had more possession (59%-41%), shots (16-9), and shots on target (11-7), and better passing accuracy (80%-69%). The Pride ended the game with more corner kicks (4-3) and crosses (16-9).

“More relief than anything,” Hines said about the result. “If we dissect the game, I thought we started, although we took the lead, I thought we started slow. We didn’t really start ourselves. We were very lethargic. I thought Washington started on the front foot, putting us under real pressure.

“I think the disappointing part from our side is that we gifted them two goals today. In this league, you can’t give teams goals because they’ll punish you. And so it’s a good reminder that we have to keep our standards high. Stick to who we are, stick to our identity. And I’m super proud of the players to not only see the game out 3-2, but with 10 players also. It shows another side to our game. So I’m super proud of them and their efforts and everything that they put into the game today.”

The Pride have now won three consecutive games, including two on the road, and are still unbeaten through the first six games this season. They’re one of three unbeaten teams (pending the Kansas City Current’s outcome) in the NWSL, along with the Current and Racing Louisville FC. It’s the team’s longest unbeaten run and winning streak since 2022.

This is the first of three games in 10 days for the Pride. They’ll return home on Wednesday night as they host the North Carolina Courage.


Exit mobile version