Orlando, FL (April 22, 2017) – The Washington Spirit (0-1-1, 1 pt) played the Orlando Pride (0-1-1, 1 pt) to a 1-1 draw in the inaugural NWSL regular season match played at the new Orlando City Stadium on Saturday afternoon, in front of 14,452 fans and a national TV audience for the second edition of the NWSL Game of the Week on Lifetime.
Line Sigvardsen Jensen found the net in the 60th minute for the Spirit, lofting a header over the Pride defense for her first career NWSL goal. Orlando’s Danica Evans scored a late equalizer in the 86th minute, connecting on a close range shot after Chioma Ubogagu threaded a pass into the box.
“It was disappointing not get all three points but it was a really exciting atmosphere to play in, and I’m really proud of the players for being resilient and doing what they needed to get a point on the road in a tough environment,” said Spirit head coach and general manager Jim Gabarra. “It was a better performance than our first match, so it’s a step in the right direction.”
Orlando outshot Washington 21-11 overall, but the Spirit recorded six shots on goal to the Pride’s five. Estelle Johnson, Shelina Zadorsky and Whitney Church all played the full 90 minutes on the Spirit back line, each making several important tackles and clearances throughout the match.
Meanwhile, Washington’s midfield unit was strong in the attacking and defensive zones. Tori Huster led the club with seven tackles and tied with Kassey Kallman, Zadorsky and Church for the most interceptions with five. Church led all players on both teams with three blocked shots, followed by Huster with two. In addition to her defensive contributions, Huster led the Spirit with 46 total passes, 29 of which were taken on the attacking side of the pitch.
Spirit goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé recorded four saves on the day and had several other key plays, including an aggressive closeout against five-time FIFA World Player of the Year Marta, altering the angle on the Brazilian international’s shot attempt just enough as she missed slightly wide right on a potential stoppage time game-winner.
It was the only shot attempt for Marta in her much-anticipated NWSL debut, which saw her enter as a substitute for Monica in the 59th minute. Ashlyn Harris made five saves in her club’s home opener and Ali Krieger led all players with 58 total passes.
Making her first start of the season, Havana Solaun led the Spirit with two shots on target. Rookie Lindsay Agnew made her first professional appearance, entering in the 19th minute after Katie Stengel had to leave the match with an injury. Another 2017 NWSL College Draft pick, Meggie Dougherty Howard, made her pro debut as well, subbing in for Kristie Mewis in the 67th minute.
Washington returns to Maureen Hendricks Field on April 29 for a match against the Houston Dash (7 p.m ET). [Tickets]
Tickets for all Spirit home matches are available now at https://tickets.washingtonspirit.com
NWSL Match Report
Match: Orlando Pride vs. Washington Spirit
Date: April 22, 2017
Venue: Orlando City Stadium
Kickoff: 4 p.m. ET
ORL: Danica Evans (Chioma Ubogagu, 86’)
WAS: Line Sigvardsen Jensen (60’)
Orlando Pride: Ashlyn Harris (c); Stephanie Catley, Ali Krieger, Alanna Kennedy, Jamia Fields (Laura Alleway, 44’); Monica (Marta, 59’), Dani Weatherholt, Jasmyne Spencer (Danica Evans, 75’), Kristen Edmonds, Camilinha, Chioma Ubogagu
Subs not used: Toni Pressley, Nickolette Driesse, Aubrey Bledsoe, Maddy Evans
Washington Spirit: Stephanie Labbé; Shelina Zadorsky (c), Whitney Church, Estelle Johnson; Kassey Kallman, Tori Huster, Alyssa Kleiner (Francisca Ordega, 57’), Kristie Mewis (Meggie Dougherty Howard, 67’), Line Sigvardsen Jensen, Havana Solaun, Katie Stengel (Lindsay Agnew, 19’)
Subs not used: Cameron Castleberry, DiDi Haracic, Arielle Ship
Stats Summary: ORL / WAS
Possession: 55.6 % / 44.4%
Shots: 21 / 11
Shots on Goal: 5 / 6
Saves: 5 / 4
Corner Kicks: 7 / 3
Fouls: 7 / 8
Offside: 1 / 4
ORL – Laura Alleway (Yellow Card) 59’
WAS – Kassey Kallman (Yellow Card) 65’
WAS – Tori Huster (Yellow Card) 75’
Referee: Karen Abt
Assistant Referee 1: Francisco Bermudez
Assistant Referee 2: Matthew Osterhouse
Fourth Official: Natalie Simon