The Orlando Pride earned multiple season firsts on Saturday. The Pride (0-7-2, 2 points) led at halftime, a forward found the back of the net, they scored from the run of play, and Orlando scored multiple goals in a game. Orlando’s two goals, from Joanna Boyles and Danica Evans, were canceled out by Kristie Mewis and Sofia Huerta of the Houston Dash (3-2-3, 12 points). The match ended 2-2 at BBVA Stadium in Houston.
Pride Head Coach Marc Skinner made one change from the previous match. Boyles started instead of Marissa Viaggiano, and was the player of the match for Orlando.
The Pride were the better team to start the game, and it showed on the scoresheet. It took just 14 minutes for Orlando to get the opener. In the 11th minute, Amber Brooks took down Rachel Hill on a foul that earned her a yellow. Houston initially cleared the free kick, but then Ally Prisock was called for a handball. The foul occurred inside the box but the referee instead pointed outside the box, indicating a free kick. The spot didn’t matter though, as Boyles sent the free kick into the back of the net. It was the first goal for Orlando this season that wasn’t scored by a center back.
Ten minutes later, the Pride should have doubled the lead. Carson Pickett sent in a perfect corner to the back post. Hill was wide open, but her header sailed over the bar.
Houston then started to get more into the match. In the 27th minute, the Dash could have been given a penalty kick. Erin Greening took down Heurta in the box, but the referee waved it off. Three minutes later, former Pride midfielder Christine Nairn sent in a perfect ball to the back post. Huerta got on the end of it, but she somehow missed the net.
Haley Kopmeyer made a potential save of the week in the 35th minute. Mewis took a left footed shot from outside the box. The shot deflected off of Greening, and Kopmeyer made the fingertip save to keep the game at 1-0.
The Pride took that 1-0 into halftime, and for the first time all season Orlando had a lead at the break. Orlando also did not allow a goal in the first 45 minutes in back-to-back weeks. Houston had more shots than the Pride (8-4), but both teams managed just one on target. The Dash also had the advantage on possession (53%).
Houston came flying out of the half and scored moments after the second half whistle. Kealia Ohai beat Greening with speed down the Pride’s right-hand side. Ohai then sent a low cross in that somehow got past every Pride defender, deflected off Kopmeyer’s leg, and fell to Huerta’s feet. Huerta just had to redirect the ball to tie it at one.
The game slowed down after that goal and neither team had many good looks. Chioma Ubogagu made a great move in the 52nd minute before sending in a cross to Hill. The ball was just out of Hill’s reach though.
Houston scored again in the 67th minute. Mewis made something out of nothing and sent a left footed shot just inside the box past Kopmeyer and into the back of the net to put the Dash up 2-1.
Down 2-1, Skinner made an attacking substitute. Danica Evans came on for Bridget Callahan in the 71st minute. Following her entrance, the forward got her goal. Ubogagu found Boyles, who threaded the needle and played a perfect ball between the Houston defenders. Evans took a poor first touch but stayed with it and scored the Pride’s first goal of the season from the run of play and first of 2019 by a forward.
In the dying moments of the game, the Dash nearly went ahead and must be furious at the officials. Kopmeyer cleared a ball outside the box with her feet. Houston then took a shot from distance and Kopmeyer made a diving save to keep the ball out of the back of the net while she was still outside the 18. The referee did not call anything, and Orlando cleared the danger. Orlando was lucky Kopmeyer was not sent off and the Dash awarded a free kick just outside the penalty area.
Orlando’s best opportunity to grab a late winner came on a volley attempt by Evans, who got her shot on frame only to watch Jane Campbell make a nice save to keep it out.
The Pride were out-shot 21-8 and had fewer shots on target (8-4). Houston also had more possession (56%), more passes (410-326), and a higher passing accuracy (74%-62%).
Orlando is back in action next week when the Pride travel to New Jersey to take on Sky Blue FC at Yurcak Field at 7 p.m. ET.