Orlando, Fla. (July 7, 2018) – The Washington Spirit struck first but fell 2-1 to the host Orlando Pride in the NWSL Game of the Week on Saturday evening at Orlando City Stadium.
Washington fell to 2-10-4 (10 points) as Orlando improved to 6-5-4 (25 points) as the Pride grabbed all three points late in the contest thanks to a strong individual display from Brazilian international Marta who scored the game-winner in the 86th minute.
The kickoff to the contest was delayed approximately 40 minutes until after 8 p.m. due to inclement weather in Orlando.
The Spirit went ahead early in the 26th minute. Forward Ashley Hatch broke the Washington scoreless drought on a header off a corner kick taken by defender Whitney Church. Hatch took over the team lead in goals scored with her fourth goal of the season. [WATCH]
Hatch’s goal was the second goal this season she scored on a header off of a set piece and was the earliest goal she has scored in a Spirit uniform.
Orlando equalized in first half stoppage time when Sydney Leroux beat Washington goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe near post on a close strike to level the contest right before the half.
Leroux was credited with the game-winning assist as found Marta in the midfield who weaved her way past the Spirit defense and roofed her right-footed shot into the top of the net to give the Pride the late 86th minute winner.
Early in the contest, Washington was forced to use a substitution. Minutes into the game Francisca Ordega collided with Pride goalie Ashlyn Harris and was unable to continue. Meggie Doughtery Howard substituted into the contest in the 10th minute.
In the second half, Washington produced the first big scoring opportunities in the then tie game. Hatch nearly recorded a brace when her shot required a diving save from Harris in the 62nd minute. One minute later, Estefania Banini nailed the inside post, almost putting the Spirit ahead.
Following the late Pride goal, in stoppage time the Spirit came close to equalizing as Bledsoe and the defense came up from the backline to throw numbers forward in the box. Caprice Dydasco recorded the best chance as her shot just missed the top right corner four minutes into stoppage time.
The Pride led the offensive barrage with 31 shots including 12 shots on goal. Washington recorded 16 shots, five of which were on target. Washington goalkeeper Bledsoe tied a season-high 10 saves in her first return to Orlando as a member of the Spirit.
Following the early substitution Washington was required to make, Havana Solaun and Rose Lavelle each earned significant second half minutes as substitutes for Andi Sullivan and Banini, respectively.
The Washington Spirit stays on the road for the final game a three game road trip as it travels to face the North Carolina Courage on Wednesday, July 11 at 7 p.m.
The team returns home to the Maryland SoccerPlex Saturday, July 21 at 7 p.m. against the Houston Dash. [TICKETS]
-NWSL Match Report-
Match: Washington Spirit at Orlando Pride
Date: July 7, 2018
Venue: Orlando City Stadium
Kickoff: 8:00 p.m. ET
Weather: Clear, Mid 70’s
WAS – Ashley Hatch (Whitney Church) 26’
ORL – Sydney Leroux (Alanna Kennedy) 45+2’
ORL – Marta (Sydney Leroux) 86’
ORL (4-3-3): Ashlyn Harris (c); Monica; Ali Kriger; Carson Pickett; Shelina Zadorsky; Alanna Kennedy; Emily van Egmond (Camila, 65’); Christine Nairn (Dani Weatherholt, 66’); Marta; Sydney Leroux; Chioma Ubogagu (Rachel Hill, 72’)
Subs not used: Toni Pressley; Kristen Edmonds; Haley Kopmeyer; Poliana
WAS (4-3-3): Aubrey Bledsoe; Caprice Dydasco; Whitney Church; Estelle Johnson (c); Taylor Smith; Estefania Banini (Rose Lavelle, 75’); Rebecca Quinn; Andi Sullivan (Havana Solaun, 66’); Francisca Ordega (Meggie Doughtery Howard, 10’); Ashley Hatch; Tori Huster
Subs not used: DiDi Haracic; Mallory Eubanks; Kelsey Wys; Joanna Lohman
Stats Summary: ORL / WAS
Possession: 56.0 / 44.0 %
Shots: 31 / 16
Shots on Goal: 12 / 5
Saves: 4 / 10
Corner Kicks: 6 / 3
Fouls: 9 / 5
Offside: 2 / 1
WAS – Estelle Johnson (Yellow Card) 30’
ORL – Marta (Yellow Card) 90’
Referee: Danielle Chesky
Assistant Referee 1: Shane Kennard
Assistant Referee 2: Ben Pilgrim
Fourth Official: Janessa Gunn