The Orlando Pride faced off against the Washington Spirit on Saturday, ending in a 1-1 draw. The Pride fought and scrapped their way to the draw after Danica Evans made her NWLS first professional career goal in the second half.
The Pride debut at the new Orlando City stadium in from of a enthusiastic crowd of 14,000+ fans who stood with the team even after Washington Scored in the 60th minute. Line Sigvardsen-Jensen headed in an initial save from Harris following a Spirit corner kick to start the scoring.
Marta entered the match in the 59th minute and immediately changed the game, quickly getting in behind the Spirit back line and serving balls for her teammates in dangerous areas. Her shot from the left side of the box in stoppage time barely missed the far post.
“She changed the game. I think some of her class and her quality and her creativity for that last 25-30 minutes tonight. Considering the travel she’s had and the commitment she’s had over the last couple of days, I think she showed tonight how good a pro she is to be able to come on and perform that way.”
The Pride did have a slow start according to head coach Tom Sermanni.
“For the first 15 minutes we turned over possession, we looked a little bit nervy, a little bit slow, didn’t really get into our stride. Then as the first half wore on we got more and more into the game and into some great positions,” he said. “We started the second half really well. First time they went up the field is when they scored and then I thought it was great character from the team to keep plugging away and come back and get the point. I think overall I saw a lot of improvement from last week.”
Washington kept the pressure on Pride goalie Ashlyn Harris who put on a stellar performance throughout the match, ending the match with 5 blocked shots. Pride speedster Jasmyne Spencer had many opportunities up front, but just could not connect. After an injury, she was substituted with Evans who scored in the 75′ to break things even.
The Pride will hit the road for their next two matches, traveling to relocated North Carolina Courage – formerly the Western New York Flash – on April 29 before going to FC Kansas City on May 7. Orlando will host its second home game on May 14, facing the Courage for the second time in as many weeks at 5 p.m. ET.