ORLANDO, FL – Orlando Pride (5-6-6, 21 points) lost a 2-1 heartbreaker on Friday night to OL Reign (7-4-6, 27 points) at Exploria Stadium. The boss snaps a seven game unbeaten streak for Orlando, but keeps a streak in which the Pride have not bested the Reign in 12 tries.
The Pride were sharp and competitive in the match, quickly challenging balls and getting many takeaways, which was impressive since the teams has had so many roster changes and updates.
Orlando opened the scoring when Meggie Dougherty-Howard was in the right place at the high time. A deep shot was sent at the Reign goal and was blocked, but he block came right to Dougherty-Howards feet for a one on one shot and the result pass keeper Phallon Tullis-Joyce for the point in the 37th minute.
The Reign came back in the 54th minute when forward Megan Rapinoe sent in a cross from the left flank that found the head of Bethany Balcer who snuck it into the bottom corner of the goal for the equalizer.
The match was looking like it was going to end in a tie when in the 90+2 minute, Megan Rapinoe got loose in the Orlando box. Rapinoe worked her was from the left corner of the box over toward the middle and managed to send in the game winner.
Forward Ally Watt and defender Haley Hanson made their home debuts for the Pride, after both came in as second-half substitutes in the Pride’s last match away at NJ/NY Gotham FC. Watt was acquired by the Pride just 11 days ago from the Tacoma-based side.
The loss was the first for Orlando since June 19th, and they held a 3-0-4 record since that date.
“[It was] a big challenge for us, we said that [it would be] going into the game.” Said Orlando Pride Interim Head Coach Set Hines “The Reign are a top team in this league with really, really talented players.”
“I thought the second half was better and it is a sucker punch at the end because I felt like we were starting to get momentum and we looked like the team that was going to get the winning goal, but football is a cruel game at times. It is a learning moment for all of us.”
The Pride have a week off, but them face another challenge the the Portland Thorns come to Exploria Stadium on September 9th.