Rookie forward Rachel Hill scored her first professional goal at the most opportune moment as Orlando Pride (4-4-3, 15 points) posted a late-match rally to defeat host Sky Blue FC (5-6-1, 16 points) on Wednesday night. Hill, who entered the match as a second-half substitute, headed in the game-winner in the 86th minute to lead the Pride to a 3-2 win at Rutgers University.
The win marked the Club’s first victory over the New Jersey-based team and the Pride’s second consecutive road win after defeating the Houston Dash, 4-2, on June 17.
“I thought we started well and were looking comfortable but we seem to have a knack of giving goals away when we’re on top of games and that put us under the pump a little bit. Then with the one at the start of the second half, I thought it was going to be a long night,” Head Coach Tom Sermanni said. “A lot of credit to our players for fighting their way back into the game. It was a tough game that could have gone either way and, at the end, [was] very even. We’re just delighted to come away with the three points.”
Sermanni made three changes to Orlando’s starting XI from its previous three matches, giving the nod to Jamia Fields, Chioma Ubogagu and Dani Weatherholt in place of Hill, Jasmyne Spencer and Monica. The trio went on to be the Pride’s three changes in the second half.
Ubogagu took advantage of her fifth start of the season, scoring her second goal of the year and opening the game up in the 11th minute. Kristen Edmonds sent a pass down the right flank to Ubogagu running into the box. The forward made a move, slipping the ball around her defender before sending a shot into the upper netting of the Sky Blue goal to put the Pride up, 1-0.
But the moments just before and after halftime would prove to be momentum-shifters, as Sky Blue goals in the 45th and 46th minutes put the Pride into a one-goal deficit for most of the second half.
The home team was able to tie things up just seconds before the half ended after being awarded their second penalty kick of the half. Defender Kelley O’Hara stepped to the spot, and though Aubrey Bledsoe picked the correct side, O’Hara provided enough pace on the shot to draw the game, 1-1.
Sky Blue came out of the half with a second goal, as Kerr tracked a deflected cross in the box and timed a bicycle kick for a 2-1 lead.
But the Pride kept their foot on the gas, eventually finding a goal through Marta to tie it at two. The play started on the foot of the goal-scorer, who played a quick pass to the side to find Hill open. Hill waited for Steph Catley on an overlapping run before the Australian left back sent a cross into the penalty area. A Sky Blue defender was able to get a small deflection on Catley’s cross, but it went right out to the Brazilian who wasted no time one-timing a shot with her left foot just inside the near post.
Prior to O’Hara’s 45th-minute penalty, Sky Blue earned a shot from the spot 20 minutes in. Sarah Killion stepped up to take the kick, but Bledsoe came up with a big save to keep the game 1-0 at the time. Bledsoe finished the match with five saves, including a 34th-minute denial on Kerr with a back-tracking stop to push the ball off the crossbar.
The Pride wrap up a three-game week on Saturday evening, welcoming the Chicago Red Stars to Orlando City Stadium at 5 p.m. ET. Tickets to the match are available at orlando-pride.com/tickets or by calling (855) ORL-CITY.
NWSL Match Report
Match: Sky Blue FC vs. Orlando Pride
Date: June 28, 2017
Venue: Yurcak Field
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Goals 1 2 F
Sky Blue FC (5-6-1) 1 1 2
Orlando (4-3-3) 1 2 3
ORL - Chioma Ubogagu 11’
NJ - Kelley O’Hara (PK) 45’
NJ - Sam Kerr (Maya Hayes) 46’
ORL - Marta 77’
ORL - Rachel Hill (Steph Catley) 86’
Orlando Pride: Aubrey Bledsoe; Kristen Edmonds, Ali Krieger ©, Toni Pressley, Steph Catley; Dani Weatherholt (Monica 82’), Alanna Kennedy, Chioma Ubogagu (Jasmyne Spencer 66’), Marta, Camila; Jamia Fields (Rachel Hill 67’)
Substitutes Not Used: Caroline Stanley; Laura Alleway; Maddy Evans, Nickolette Driesse
Sky Blue FC: Kailen Sheridan; Kelley O’Hara, Christie Pearce, Mandy Freeman, Kayla Mills; Maya Hayes (Leah Galton 69’), Daphne Corboz, Sarah Killion, Raquel Rodriguez, Taylor Lytle (McKenzie Meehan 81’); Sam Kerr (Nikki Stanton 86’)
Substitutes Not Used: Caroline Casey; Erin Simon, Erica Skroski; Madison Tiernan
Stats Summary: NJ / ORL
Possession: 50.1% / 49.9%
Shots: 11 / 14
Shots on Goal: 7 / 5
Saves: 2 / 5
Corner Kicks: 0 / 7
Fouls: 11 / 9
Offside: 2 / 1
ORL - Jasmyne Spencer (Yellow Card) 75’
NJ - Nikki Stanton (Yellow Card) 90+4’
Referee: Danielle Chesky
Assistant Referee 1: Jeffrey Skinker
Assistant Referee 2: Victor Vazquez
Fourth Official: Luis Arroyo