The Orlando Pride (8-6-6, 30 points) pretty much dominated play for much of their match vs New Jersey’s Sky Blue FC (0-13-4, 4 points) but ended up having to scramble for a 2-2 tie on Sunday in front of a crowd of 4,755 at Orlando City Stadium.
Brazilian soccer legend Marta added her fourth goal of the season and firebrand Dani Weatherholt charged to get her second to tie the match.
“We knew Sky Blue and what they would come into this with, they’d come here with a point to prove. Their players have dug in all season and made life really difficult for teams, they should’ve won games earlier in the season and we knew how difficult it was going to be,” Pride Head Coach Tom Sermanni said. “I think today’s game is probably a snapshot of our season to be perfectly honest. We had more than enough possession to win the game, we had certainly more than enough chances to win the game, but we hit the woodwork, maybe three or four times. We dominated large parts of the game, but we just don’t put the game away.”
Most of the first half of the match was uneventful. Orlando dominating the pitch, but not getting any open shots, with only 4 shots on goal in the first half. Sky Blue’s errant passes and faltering when challenged on balls made it clear why they are having issues.
In the 51st minute, Midfielder Dani Weatherholt worked her way into the penalty area after a throw-in from Ubogagu. Weatherholt fired a shot, which was saved by Sky Blue goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan.
The ball then bounced off the far post and right in front of Marta, who scored her fourth goal of the season.
Sky Blue came right back with a score minutes later. Alanna Kennedy slipped and fell, which kept midfielder Imani Dorsey onside while other Pride players closed in on Groom.
Groom fed the ball to Dorsey, who was clinical in front of the net and tied the match in the 53rd minute.
Sky Blue FC captured its first lead of the season six minutes later.
U.S. women’s national team star Carli Lloyd sent in a cross to forward Savannah McCaskill, who headed the ball to Groom. Groom then headed it past Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris giving Sky Blue the 2-1 lead. Groom landed awkwardly on the play and had to leave the game after her goal.
Weatherholt saved the Pride from a loss with strong individual effort in the 73rd minute. Midfielder Camila was pushed off the ball, but Weatherholt came charging forward and collected the ball. Weatherholt kept moving forward, even after Sheridan came off her line and got her foot on the ball, eventually heading the ball home.
Seven minutes of stoppage time were later awarded, which provided an opportunity for the Pride to take the lead after Sky Blue midfielder Carli Lloyd was shown a straight red card on a handball in the box. Marta stepped to the spot looking for her second of the game, but Sheridan made a diving save to her left to preserve the draw.