It was the Washington Spirit that came out on top of the Orlando Pride in the first ever meeting between the two clubs. Orlando could manage only two shots on target and allowed Washington to control the tempo of the match, allowing chance after chance for the home side. Pride boss Tom Sermanni elected for an unchanged side from the one that lost in Rochester, with the notable lack of English midfielder Lianne Sanderson even on the bench.
The Pride (4-5-0) started with an early bombardment of the Spirit's penalty area, but it was Estafania Banini who struck first for Washington in the ninth minute. The Argentinian midfielder was left with all kinds of time at the penalty spot and finished coolly past Ashlyn Harris' outstretched arm. It's the continuation of a troubling recent trend for Orlando, which has conceded an early goal in each of the last two matches on the road and the Pride drop to a concerning 1-5-0 record on the road this season.
In the 23rd minute, the Pride managed to scramble to stop what looked to be a certain Spirit goal as a Harris save rebounded right to Francisca Ordega, who shot on a seemingly empty net. Fortunately for the Pride, Steph Catley slid in heroically to clear the ball off the line.
Harris made some key saves, including a pair against Diana Matheson midway through the first half that stopped some of the bleeding. Too often, Washington attackers found themselves with good opportunities and without some stellar saves, the match would have been well out of hand early on.
The Spirit managed to double their lead in the 40th after Ordega stripped Laura Alleway with a hard tackle and chipped the ball high over Harris and defender Toni Pressley. Alleway was shaken up on the play and replaced by Kaylyn Kyle. Ortega and Crystal Dunn terrorized the Pride back line all night. Dunn consistently found space on the right side of the Orlando penalty area, whipping in crosses and releasing other Spirit players on goal. The Pride defense was often disjointed and left gaping holes that, somehow, Washington never managed to take advantage of.
The Pride's most dangerous part of their attack came on free kicks. The Spirit fouled often in dangerous locations during the first half. Catley missed just wide in the 15th minute and Alleway's attempt in the 31st was right at Spirit 'keeper Stephanie Labbe. There was only one threatening moment in the first half, when Alex Morgan found herself alone on goal just before halftime, but Labbe managed to push the captain's shot wide enough to hit the post and Morgan's second attempt was off the mark and out of play.
Recommended viewing: Stephanie Labbé (and post) save. pic.twitter.com/sa1jV6cWHB— Our Game Magazine (@OurGameMagazine) June 18, 2016
During the 49th minute, the packed house of 5,750 -- a Spirit record -- applauded in honor of those we lost last weekend. The Pride played the ball back to Harris and both teams joined in the applause for the duration of the minute.
The wingers were an important part of Orlando's offense, as Morgan continually found herself staring down multiple Spirit defenders. Jasmyne Spencer and rookie Samantha Witteman attempted to divert the pressure. Witteman almost managed to get on the board for the Pride, but her diving attempt at a Catley cross in the 65th minute was inches short.
Sarah Hagen and Jamia Fields came on late to try and spark the Orlando attack, but there was nothing there for the Pride. They have now been held scoreless in three straight matches, losing all three.
The Pride return home for their next match against the Houston Dash on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Orlando remain unbeaten (3-0-0) at Camping World Stadium.