The Washington Spirit took on the Orlando Pride this past Saturday in front of a home crowd of over 5200. At the end of the match, it was a draw, earning both teams one point in the league standings.BOYDS —
In the 10th minute of the match a penalty kick was awarded to the Pride. Brazilian soccer player Marta took the shot and put the Pride up 1-0 over the Spirit. Head coach Jim Gabarra said it was an “unearned penalty” that put the Pride up so early in the game.
For the next 10 minutes, the Spirit looked a bit flat. Marta went the other way and used the goal to energize herself. It was not very long, 10 minutes or so further into the match it all changed.
On a turnover in the 23rd minute by the Pride’s Kristen Edmonds, Spirit forward Estefania Banini snagged the ball away and dribbled it forward. She crossed it to the center where Francisca Ordega was matching Banini’s on-sides pace. Ordega then crossed it towards Pugh. Pugh adjusted her step to collect the ball that came in behind her, reoriented herself towards the net and booted it through traffic to score a goal for the Spirit. The offensive attack line of Banini, Ordega, and Pugh let everyone know that the Spirit has a dangerous trio up front who are capable of a synchronized attack. The score was tied 1-1.
Five minutes later, riding the wave of enthusiasm of Pugh’s goal, Spirit midfielder Tori Huster found her own opportunity. She went one-on-one with Pride goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe. Huster’s shot was on frame but Bledsoe moved off her line to meet the shot, deflecting it away. In the second half, team Marta struck again. Playing a bouncing ball pass from Pride defender Camila Pereira, Marta made one touch of the ball and fired a leftfooted, shoulder-height shot between two Spirit defenders. The ball tracked to the net as it lost height. It skipped off the ground, making it impossible for Labbè to stop the shot. The Orlando Pride went up 2-1 over the Washington Spirit.
Until the 90th minute of the match, Orlando was ahead 2-1. Then a foul by the Pride’s Pressley on Kristie Mewis in the box resulted in a penalty kick for the Spirit. Mallory Pugh took the kick, driving her shot just out of the keeper Bledsoe’s outstretched diving reach, equalizing the match at 2-2.
Five additional minutes of stoppage time saw a flurry of activity on from the Spirit to make just one more goal and earn the three-point addition to their league totals.
In a match where the visiting team is one up through the majority of the second half would cripple the energy drive of most teams. The Washington Spirit were not most teams. Marta’s second goal only served to fire the Spirit up. The intensity of their play never slowed. They played hard as a team until the final whistle blew, the final score 2-2.
Head coach Jim Gabarra and his staff have the foundation for a great team. Defense is solid, the midfield is active playing both ends well, and the offense is a work of art in progress. If the team continues with a consistent starting lineup, they will start collecting wins.