Ohhhhhh, what a night!!! Is anyone else still on high from Saturday’s game, because I certainly am!
Walking around FANZONE last night was absolutely incredible. It definitely had a different feel as opposed to FANZONE before an OCSC game. People were so excited. I heard whispers about how there were only 30 minutes before the gates would open, about whether or not Morgan would score. It was like people were sitting at the edge of their seat, even before the they were in them, just ready for something magical to happen.
And let's be real, a lot of magic took place last night at the Citrus Bowl. We beat the NWSL attendance record, that was originally held by the Portland Thorns at 21,144, with an amazing 23,403 turnout. Thank you to all of the supporters and fans that came out to witness history being made. Then we dominated the Houston Dash with a 3-1 win!!!!! Houston Dash, for me, is the number 1 team right now in the NWSL and the fact that we beat them last night sets the bar high for the rest of the season.
Orlando Pride, right off the bat, have been setting records. Could we be the first expansion team to become Champions during the Inaugural year? I don't know, but what the Pride have shown is that people shouldn’t underestimate this team and that we are capable of great things. I would even argue that Orlando Pride are already achieving greatness.
I feel we started the season going against the two most difficult teams in the league. Losing our first game against the Thorns was disheartening, but still also hopeful seeing the ladies come out with a 2-1 score. Playing Portland again will be interesting and will definitely allow us to see how Orlando Pride has progressed.
As the game started Saturday night, I can tell our ladies were ready for this game. They pressured the midfield (as we anticipated) and were strong in their defense. Carli Loyd getting an injury and being subbed out in the first 10 minutes of the game scares me as a USWNT follower. She had an MRI to see what the deal is. Fingers crossed she's okay and can make a speedy recovery so that she's healthy and ready for the Olympics. But the Houston Dash have a deep bench and were able to sub on Kealia Ohai, allowing Becky Morgan to drop back into Lloyd’s spot.
The first half of the game was a tug of war between both teams. We maintained possession almost the entire time though and our biggest problem was just making good opportunities to score.
Second half we came in determined.
Jasmyne Spencer, again, stands out so much to me. She killed it in the Portland game, but man, she was out for a win this time. The whole time I was thinking, "how can someone be so fit?" I mean, she was making sprints and breakaways the whole game and didn't lose speed whatsoever. The first goal was an own goal by Andressa, but Spencer is the main reason we got this. Her little back touch allowed Morgan to try and get a hit on it that then was blocked by a defender, badly. We'll take those mistakes though and that just allowed our girls to feel even more confident!
Second goal was so sneaky from Sanderson. What a smart and cunning lady! She gets a free kick, the ref blows the whistle and she takes advantage of the fact that the Houston defense is not ready and the goalie is unprepared. Easy goal for Sanderson that brings us up 2-0. It was funny when she scored the goal, because the family next to me turned towards me and was like, "did that really just happen?!" And I was like, "uhhhhh, yeah it did!"
Last goal just shows how much talent this team actually has. Justina was sooooo right on calling Catley's role on the team from the start. She comes up to the offense, can play solid D and was the assist for the last goal of the night for the Orlando Pride. The play started through Spencer who passed it to Catley, who ran it down the side till she passed it in to Morgan; with one touch, Morgan placed the ball to the goalie’s far left that would be impossible to save.
Andressa scored Houston's only goal, but what a goal! Not even Ashlyn, who had an incredible game, could have saved that.
Ashlyn Harris deserves so much recognition for this game. She had so many great saves that were critical for our win against the Dash. Morgan played great, but I really do think Harris deserved the Player of the Match. She communicated effectively with her back line and she saved the Orlando Pride with her impressive goal keeping skills.
The Dash are a powerful team, but there's no doubt that last night the Orlando Pride made a huge statement; we may be the rookies, but we came to play and we are dangerous! Let's go Orlando Pride, Chicago is next!