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Orlando Pride at Houston Dash: Final Score 4-2 as Pride Rally Falls Short

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Orlando cut a 3-0 deficit to 3-2 but could not find the equalizer. The Pride were officially eliminated from playoff contention, slipping to eighth in the NWSL.

Matt Starkey, The Mane Land

The Orlando Pride were officially eliminated from playoff contention after a 4-2 loss to the Houston Dash on the road at BBVA Compass Stadium. The Pride (6-11-0, 18 points) rallied late from a 3-0 deficit to pull within a goal but couldn’t quite get on level terms with the hosts, who put it away on Kealia Ohai’s second goal of the night. Houston got its first win over expansion Orlando in four tries and in fact had never led in the series until tonight’s match.

Houston out-shot Orlando 18-5 in what had been a dominating performance up until Alex Morgan’s goal off a set piece gave the visitors new life.

Morgan and Kristen Edmonds brought Orlando back from a 3-0 deficit with goals in the 80th and 87th minutes, respectively, but an unfortunate collision between Becky Edwards and Monica in the 90th resulted in a laceration to the Pride midfielder’s head.

Edwards went to the locker room, leaving her team with just 10 players to try to find the equalizer, as Tom Sermanni had used all his subs. After the departure of Edwards, the Pride never threatened and Ohai found an insurance goal on the counter-attack after a Monica long ball forward was intercepted by the Dash. Ohai not only put the game away on a two-on-one break, but nearly notched a hat trick if not for a great save by Ashlyn Harris. Houston (5-8-4, 19 points) set a new franchise record with four goals scored in the match.

The Dash took their first-ever lead against the Pride early, off an unforced Orlando turnover that sent Houston on the attack. The ball found Ohai on the left side and when she couldn’t shake the defense, she laid off to Carli Lloyd. The USWNT captain worked her way around the left flank and crossed the ball back across the box where Beckie was completely unmarked. Beckie smashed the ball past Harris to put the Dash ahead in the 23rd minute.

Although Houston had the majority of the possession in the first 45 minutes, there weren’t many clear-cut chances for the Dash aside from the goal. Beckie, Andressa, and Ohai each took some long-distance shots that either missed the target or were deflected out for corner kicks. Morgan Brian had a shot from the top of the box but didn’t get much on it and it was straight at Harris in the 34th minute.

The Pride lacked any real teeth in the attack throughout the opening half, but finally got a good opportunity in the 37th minute. A cross found Morgan, who nodded it forward and directly into the path of Edmonds. She tried to take the shot immediately, but mishit her attempt and it sailed well over the bar.

Minutes later, Sarah Hagen was forced out of the match after a collision that didn’t look particularly violent but she was obviously woozy afterward and Sermanni was forced into an early substitution, bringing Maddy Evans on in the 43rd minute.

The Dash led 1-0 at the break on the Beckie strike, but took control just three minutes into the second half.

Poliana scored off a goal mouth scramble following a Houston corner kick. Ashlyn Harris made the initial save but the ball took a Dash bounce and the rebound found the net to make it 2-0 in the 48th minute. Two minutes later, Ohai shot just off target after a Dani Weatherholt turnover ignited the counter. Ohai made it 3-0 in the 63rd with an amazing strike from the top of the box on the left side, curling a shot into the upper 90 to the far side, leaving Harris no chance.

Orlando had a chance to respond right away but Monica’s header off an Edmonds free kick was right at Dash goalkeeper Lydia Williams. It looked like the Dash would see the game out comfortably after that. Harris was occasionally called into action, such as her 68th-minute stop on a Beckie breakaway.

But then Orlando found some sudden offense.

Edmonds sent Morgan through on a training ground play off a free kick and the captain beat Williams to the far post for her third club goal of the season, making it 3-1 with 10 minutes to play.

There was still a lot to do but the insertion of Sam Witteman for Josee Belanger provided more width to the Pride attack and it paid off. Witteman got forward down the right channel and fired a cross into the box that deflected around and found Edmonds, who buried her shot to make it 3-2 with three minutes left in normal time.

Unfortunately, that’s as close as the Pride could get, and the Edwards injury made a tough task just about impossible. Instead of pulling level, the Pride conceded Ohai’s second and the match was effectively over, as were Orlando’s playoff chances.

The Pride slipped to eighth in the 10-team NWSL, just a point behind the Dash. Orlando visits Sky Blue on Wednesday in the team’s final road match of the season.