Orlando Pride vs. Washington Spirit: Final score 1-1, while Pride extended the unbeaten streak to five
The Pride remains undefeated with a 1-1 draw against Washington Spirit at Audi Field and leads the table as the team split the points for the second time in the regular NWSL 2021 season. Ashley Hatch scored the first goal of the game, her second in two games against the Pride (3-0-2, 11 points) that season, but Taylor Kornieck’s first NWSL career goal was enough to keep Orlando’s undefeated streak intact . Washington (2-1-2, 8 points) is in third place after the draw and the Pride are now 5-5-4 in all competitions against the Spirit.
“Really hard-earned draw in a difficult place,” said Orlando Pride Head Coach Marc Skinner. “We have come to a point in the game where even after conceding we felt that we were comfortable and that we could get back into the game and of course play it from there. So what has shown is the mentality of the players, their sense of togetherness, their spirit and the response in the group. It was a really good mental point for us today and on the road again when you come to these places, when you can collect points, that’s our goal.
There was a small change in the starting XI today. Sydney Leroux, who was considered questionable prior to the game with a hamstring injury, was not on the day’s squad. Instead, Marisa Viggiano got the start, her third year.
It was an even game. In the first 30 minutes, both teams had scoring chances, but only one good chance each.
Alex Morgan stole the ball on 18th minute and moved into the box on 18th minute, but she fired her shot directly at Aubrey Bledsoe, who wasted the chance. Morgan was eventually kept off the score sheet for the first time in the 2021 season.
In the 26th minute, Washington won a free kick. Ashley Sanchez sent in a good ball. Emily Sonett headed flat in the far corner, but Ashlyn Harris was there to fend off the fingertip.
Both teams fought for connection in the last third. Morgan got good seats a couple of times but was all alone. Orlando’s few chances came from direct play. The Spirit played a slower game that allowed Orlando to fall behind the ball.
The last chance at halftime came in the 45th minute. Kelley O’Hara had the ball and took on Ali Riley. The ball went out, but the referee did not stop play. O’Hara then sent a good cross and Rodman headed on the wrong side of the post. Harris let the referee hear it and was obviously not happy that the game was not interrupted.
The game went into the break with a 0-0 draw. Washington beat Pride 12-3, but only one had a chance to beat Harris. The spirit also led property wars (53%). Still, Orlando defended well and limited what the spirit could do while in possession.
In the second half, Orlando’s attack looked a little better. The last ball was missing, but Orlando had more numbers up front. It wasn’t just Morgan anymore, isolated for the last third.
“We weren’t as sure of how we wanted to play the game as we could have been,” Skinner said. “We knew what we wanted to do, but Washington gave us more space for the middle halves, for example because of the heat. And then basically Taylor [Kornieck] then we mixed up positions when we had to play directly to avoid the kind of central trap they were trying to set up for us. You have a ten and two sixes in that central trap, so let’s try to avoid that, but we’ve got our distances wrong by five or six meters. And once we addressed that at halftime, maybe they could refocus – knowing they had a cool-off – then they could jump in and be more effective. “
Washington opened the gate in the 64th minute. O’Hara sent a cross to a great place. Hatch and Jordan DiBiasi were both wide open in the box, and it was Hatch who got there first, punching Harris to the ball and going home, giving the Spirit a 1-0 lead.
The pride struck right back. After an unconventional shot, Washington gave a goal kick, Bledsoe made a terrible pass and Marta was able to intercept it. The Brazilian passed Kornieck with a ball and the rookie sent a low shot into the far corner to make it 1-1. It was Kornieck’s first regular season goal with Pride, despite scoring one in the Challenge Cup in Louisville.
“Everything started before the game,” said Kornieck. “In our jumble, you know, Ash [Harris] gave a really great speech that motivated us all. We’re at the top of the table and easy to get to, but hard to hold. So, you know, once we lost a goal, we all kept fighting and fighting and we found our chance and we made it a great opportunity. So, I’m really very happy with how we came back from that goal.
“I told everyone, ‘It’s time for me.’ I had my first header against Louisville in the first game of the Challenge Cup and was in a bit of a drought. I really didn’t show my top game and all I can and that was just a glimpse of me as a player. So I hope that I can bring more of it with me over the course of the games. “
The game got sloppy over time. Both teams turned the ball over. The Pride struggled to fit out of the back significantly and had a few problems in the final 20 minutes of the game.
“We train in this heat every day so we’re used to it and I was hoping that in the 60th minute it would wear off and we would take the game away,” said Krieger. “But it’s something that you just have to deal with. Unfortunately, the two o’clock game in mid-June is not ideal but we have to find out and both teams have to play in it and I think we did well considering that. “
Morgan took a few blows in the last few minutes. She looked like she was being hit in her rib / stomach area a few times and was lying on the field with obvious pain. She was able to watch the game end, and Pride was able to secure a hard-earned road point.
Washington overtook Pride 21-9, but the shots were much closer (6-2). The Spirit had a 52% to 48% advantage in possession and an advantage in passing accuracy (83.1% to 77.1%). Orlando had a slight lead in the corners (4-3).
The Pride are now taking a short break because of the international break. Orlando will next play NJ / NY Gotham FC at Exploria Stadium on June 20th.