The Orlando Pride made history on Saturday night in the Florida Citrus Bowl. They won their first official match in the history of the franchise by defeating the Houston Dash, 3-1. They also broke a NWSL attendance record with a raucous Orlando crowd of 23,403 fans.
“I think the crowd we had today has taken the league to a new level, it just wasn’t about the number in the crowd but the passion of the crowd and how they supported the team. Hopefully we did enough tonight to encourage them to come back for the rest of the season.” said Pride Head Coach Tom Sermanni.
In a well contested first half, both teams felt each other out. Jasmine Spencer caused problems for Houston by aggressively charging up feels to set up opportunities for Morgan.
Orlando’s Ashlyn Harris was solid in goal with a seven save performance. She aggressively charged and took Houston shot opportunities away. In the 19th min Houston forward Janine
Beckie got behind Orlando defends Laura Alleyway for a straight charge at the goal, but Harris came out of net charging her and taking the ball before she could get a shot off. The crowd roared as she flexed after making the play.
After a 0-0 first half, Orlando came out of the locker room much more aggressive.
“We made a tactical change and we pressed them with more aggression up the field rather than just letting them bring the ball out easily,” said Sermanni.
With high pressure out of the gates, the Pride’s opening goal came on a Houston own goal after 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup Champion Alex Morgan’s shot deflected off defender Andressa and past Dash goalkeeper Lydia Williams.
In the 57th minute, second half substitution Lianne Sanderson caught the Dash off guard on a free kick – firing a quick shot from well outside the box, over the wall and beat Williams to the left.
The Pride capped off their scoring with Steph Catley sprung free on a run near to the byline. After receiving the ball, Catley connected with Morgan feet from the goal, and the forward one-timed the ball into the far-side netting.
Andressa scored Houston’s lone goal in the second half, shrugging off a Pride defender before firing a perfectly-placed ball past Harris from outside the box.
“I saw passages of it in time, but we still have a lot of work to do in some other areas. Particular in playing the game and keeping possession we are still very much a work in progress but what we’ve got is a good. I think we have shown that in the last couple games that we are competitive.” Said said Sermanni.
The Pride Next travel to Chicago for a game next Sunday at 6pm. They return to Orlando to face Seattle Reign FC on Sunday May 6.