Recap: Orlando Pride 1, Washington Spirit 1

In a repeat of their season opening match, the Orlando Pride and Washington Spirit drew 1-1, with the Spirit once again taking the lead and almost immediately conceding on the other end. Ashley Hatch scored her third goal of the season from a cross by Kelley O’Hara in the 64th minute, with Taylor Kornieck scoring from outside the box in the 67th after an errant piece of distribution by Aubrey Bledsoe.

The 3rd matchup of these two teams played out in the first half much more like the second 1-1 draw than the loss in the Challenge Cup, with the Spirit having the balance of the scoring chances and the Pride trying to create opportunities via long balls and set pieces.

The Pride were content to clog up the middle of the field for the first 30 minutes of the first half, giving the Spirit the run of the flanks and allowing Trinity Rodman to set the pace for the DC attack. The first real scoring opportunity of the game was in the 7th minute, when Julia Roddar hit the cross bar after sustained pressure in the Pride’s box. While the Spirit had more possession, the Pride were calm in playing out of the back and breaking the sustained press in the early part of the game by Washington.

The Pride, who had only 46% possession in the first half, tried to attack the Spirit’s backline with long balls over the center backs aimed at the speedy Alex Morgan or 6’1 Taylor Kornieck. Emily Sonnett in particular was strong in her play, minimizing these opportunities. She also almost scored in the 25th minute off of a header on a free kick by Ashley Sanchez, but it was parried away by Ashlyn Harris.

Around the 40th minute, the Spirit began to pick up play in the middle of the field, with Ashley Sanchez springing to life. She took the ball and dribbled past 4 players after the hydration break and provided the first threat from the middle of the field that the Pride had allowed all game. The Spirit outshot the Pride 12-2 in the first half, and looked like the team most likely to take three points.

The second half continued in much the same fashion as the first, with the Spirit providing the chances and the Pride trying to hit Washington over the top and on set pieces. The Spirit finally broke through in the 64th minute, as Kelley O’Hara dribbled past a defender and whipped in a dangerous cross to Ashley Hatch, who headed the ball past Ashlyn Harris for the 1-0 lead.

Richie Burke had great things to say about Hatch’s season thus far, remarking on her hard work before and after practice and said that her match data usually shows her having more distance traveled than many midfielders. The service she has received this season from both wings has been excellent and a confident Hatch buries those chances and makes this team more dangerous, Burke said.

Unfortunately, like the season opening match, the lead was extraordinary short lived. After a chance by Alex Morgan in the 65th, poor distribution by Aubrey Bledsoe led to an open opportunity on the edge of the box for Taylor Kornieck, who rolled the ball to the far post past Bledsoe and tied the game.

Including the 7 minutes of stoppage time, the heat took its toll on both teams as sharpness started to decrease and chances became fewer and far between.

It was the first Spirit home game and in front of fans, and despite the hot conditions, the crowd stayed involved for 90 minutes. “I saw fans walking to the stadium and I was stoked to get a chance to play in front of our awesome fans”, said Kelley O’ Hara. The next time the Spirit will play in front of their home fans will be on July 2nd at Segra Field, but first, the Spirit have 13 days before the next match away to Chicago. The international break will see a number of Spirit players depart the team, including Andi Sullivan, Kelley O’Hara, and Emily Sonnett for the USWNT.

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