Orlando Pride couldn’t have written a better script, as the Club made history with a 3-1 win over the Houston Dash on Saturday night, in front of a National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) record single-game attendance of 23,403 fans at the Orlando Citrus Bowl.
“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,” said Pride Head Coach Tom Sermanni. “Hopefully we did enough tonight to encourage them to come back for the rest of the season.”
Fans celebrated the first goal in Orlando in the 46th minute after the Pride came back from halftime firing on all cylinders. 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.
Second-half substitute Lianne Sanderson doubled the Club’s lead in the 57th minute, when she 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.
Orlando scored goal number three just minutes later, with Sanderson starting the attack with a wide ball to pacey Jasmyne Spencer on the left. The forward cut the ball inside, which allowed defender Steph Catley to spring free on an overlapping run to the byline. After receiving the ball, Catley - who scored the first ever goal for the team last weekend against the Portland Thorns - connected with former Thorns teammate Morgan feet from the goal, and the forward one-timed the ball into the far-side netting.
Florida native Ashlyn Harris had a seven-save performance, including multiple game-securing saves, to lead Orlando to its first victory in her hometown. Harris denied rookie Janine Beckie on a breakaway, coming off her line to paw away the shot in the 19th minute.
The goalkeeper sealed the game with back-to-back saves near the 80-minute mark, including a point-blank stop on reigning NWSL Player of the Week Rachel Daly in the 82nd minute.
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.
Orlando Pride will travel to Chicago for a 6 p.m. ET match next Sunday at Toyota Park. The Club returns to the Citrus Bowl the following week, hosting Hope Solo and Seattle Reign FC at 5 p.m. ET on Sunday, May 8.
0 | 3 | Final: 3
0 | 1 | Final: 1
Orlando Pride - Ashlyn Harris; Josee Belanger, Laura Alleway, Monica, Steph Catley; Becky Edwards (Maddy Evans 70’), Kaylyn Kyle (Sarah Hagen 81’), Dani Weatherholt (Lianne Sanderson 46’); Kristen Edmonds, Alex Morgan, Jasmyne Spencer
Substitutes Not Used: Aubrey Bledsoe; Cami Levin, Toni Pressley; Sam Witteman
Houston - Lydia Williams; Poliana, Ellie Brush, Becca Moros, Allysha Chapman; Morgan Brian (Chioma Ubogagu 65’), Amber Brooks, Andressa; Carli Lloyd (Kealia Ohai 12’), Janine Beckie (Cami Privett 77’), Rachel Daly
Substitutes Not Used: Bianca Henninger; Stephanie Ochs
Ticket to the match can be purchased at orlando-pride.com. Season Ticket packages are also available starting at $15 per match and can be purchased at orlando-pride.com/tickets or by calling 855-ORL-CITY.
The complete 2016 Orlando Pride schedule is available at orlando-pride.com/schedule.