The Orlando Pride shifted some things up and were ready for battle. After shoring up the midfield with Alana Kennedy and Monica among other changes, the Pride seemed to find a formula for success, beating the Boston Breakers 2-0.
Superstar legend Marta sprinted towards goal and was tackled after going one on one with Boston goalie Abby Smith, setting up Orlando’s first ever penalty kick. Marta smashed a shot into the lower left corner for an easy goal in the ninth minute.
Marta had a hand in the next score as well. Marta cleared a ball from the right midfield, curving her kick over the midfield to the left side and perfectly setting up Camila, who was streaking down the left. Camila blasts a shot towards goal, in from to the defense and setting up Jasmine Spencer to tap it in.
“I was really delighted with the way we started the game tonight. We started it and showed real intent and we were rewarded for that by the two early goals.” said Pride coach Tom Sermanni. ” It was great to have a clean sheet. I can’t remember exactly when we had one of those before, it’s been some time. And our first ever penalty after 28 games in the NWSL, things are looking up.”
Maybe it’s a taste of home cooking that served the Pride well. Their last home game vs North Carolina resulted in a 3-1 win. Prior to that, a 1-1 draw against the Washington Spirit. Today’s 2-0 win seems to follow a trend.
The Pride’s 5,185 fans, thought small in number with impending rain, stood strong for the team in clear weather and torrential rain. It makes a difference.
Backup goalie Aubrey Bledsoe proved to be solid in goal, blocking 3 shots, giving the back line confidence that their back was well covered. It was her second start.
” Any crosses that came in, difficult conditions or under pressure, her handling was first class.” Said Tom Sermanni. “Her decision making was really good and the way she controlled the game from the back was excellent. She had a very good game tonight.”
“The team just played incredible today.” Said Bledsoe. “Every player on the field gave it their all, looked really solid. We were waiting for this breakthrough performance. It’s been a long time coming. Honestly [the team] made my job easy today. A shutout was a total team effort and everyone deserves the credit for it.”
The Pride rolled out a new-look lineup, starting Steph Catley and Toni Pressley in their usually spots at left back and center back, respectively. Sermanni pushed Ali Krieger into the second center back position and dropped midfielder Kristen Edmonds to right back, a position she previously played in her time at Western New York.
Monica returned to patrol the midfield and, with Dani Weatherholt away with the U.S. U23 Women’s National Team, Alanna Kennedy filled in at holding mid.
Sermanni called upon rookie Rachel Hill, giving the UConn product her first career start in front of the 5,185 fans. Hill added to the Pride’s attack, totaling two shots in her debut and coming inches from her first professional goal in the 32nd minute.
The Pride have a two week FIFA break and will return to Orlando City Stadium on June 24 at 4pm. in the second half of a home-and-home series with the Houston Dash. That match will be broadcast nationally as the NWSL Game of the Week on Lifetime.