Playing in their third game in eight days, the Orlando Pride scored their first goal and earned their first point of the season in a 1-1 draw against Reign FC in Tacoma, WA. Alanna Kennedy scored in the sixth minute with a bicycle kick, but Bethany Balcer evened things out as the Pride and Reign played to a sixth straight draw in the head-to-head match up.
Marc Skinner kept the lineup largely intact from the mid-week loss to the Courage. Chioma Ubogagu made way for Camila. Marta, Alex Morgan, and Rachel Hill made up the front three, and the back four remained unchanged.
Orlando (0-2-1, 1 point) came out strong and Kennedy scored in just the sixth minute. The Pride won a free kick in the opposing half. Emily van Egmond put in the cross, and it was headed back across the box, where Kennedy made an acrobatic bicycle kick to beat Betos and score the first goal of Orlando’s season.
The Reign (0-0-2, 2 points) were the better team for much of the half following that first goal, and had chance after chance. In the ninth minute, Shelina Zadorsky made a poor back pass to Ashlyn Harris that sent the goalkeeper sprinting after it. Luckily, the ball just missed the goal and went out for a corner. Three minutes later, Reign FC shouted for a penalty when Jodie Taylor went down in the box. The referee waved play on though and Orlando was able to clear it.
From there, Orlando had a few chances to double the lead but couldn’t take advantage of it. Carson Pickett sent in a good ball that Betos fumbled with at first but eventually jumped on. A minute later Camila cut inside and took a shot, but the Reign ‘keeper made the diving save. Rachel Hill had a few chances to produce something but was constantly a step behind in the final third.
These missed opportunities from the Pride allowed the home team to get back into the game. The Reign had some excellent ball movement, but the Pride had a chance to stop the attack and couldn’t clear the ball. Van Egmond’s clearance attempt was blocked by Allie Long and Ali Krieger was muscled off the ball by Bev Yanez. It ended up at Bethany Balcer’s feet and she hit a perfect shot into the side netting that Harris had no chance of keeping out.
It looked like the Reign would find their second goal, but Harris kept Orlando in it. In the 38th minute, Long was open at the back post off a set piece. She headed the ball at goal but Harris kept it out with her shoulder.
The second half was much more even than the first, and both teams had a few opportunities. Harris was called into action early and made a potential NWSL Save of the Week candidate in the 57th minute. The Reign went on a counter and got the ball into the final third. Rumi Utsugi got her head on a cross, and Harris made a one-hand, diving save to keep the game tied.
Two minutes later, Shea Groom was left wide open at the back post. She perhaps should have done better with it and her shot went right at Harris.
Pickett had a few good crosses in the last 30 minutes. Just after the hour mark, she aimed for Morgan and Hill but it was just a tad too long. A few minutes later, Pickett played a long through ball but Morgan was called offside.
In the 82nd minute, Orlando had a good opportunity. Morgan had the ball dribbling at the top of the box. She gave the ball up to Marta on her left, and before the Brazilian could get a shot off the Reign hustled back on defense.
Marta had another chance a few minutes later. Betos punched away a cross from Krieger. Marta sent the ball right back in and the ‘keeper scrambled back to knock the ball away, although it may have been heading wide.
In the end, there were no goals in the second half, although there were chances for both teams. The Pride looked more dangerous in the final 15 minutes, and committed fewer poor turnovers. Orlando had fewer shots (14-13) and shots on goal (4-2) and had just 45% possession.
The Pride return home on Saturday, April 27 at 7:30 p.m. against the Utah Royals.