The Orlando Pride (1-1-1, 4 points) drew the Kansas City Current (0-2-1, 1 point) 2-2 at Exploria Stadium tonight in a game with a pair of stoppage-time goals. After going up 1-0 in the 51st minute, the Pride fell behind 2-1 before Toni Pressley converted a penalty with nearly the last kick of the game. Gunny Jonsdottir scored the other Orlando goal, while Elyse Bennett and Kristen Hamilton scored for the visitors.
Orlando is now on a modest, two-game unbeaten streak (1-0-1).
For the first time this year, the Pride had the same starting lineup in back-to-back games. This is partly due to the availability list being the same as it was last week when the Pride beat Angel City FC 1-0 in Los Angeles. Regardless, it provided some consistency to the lineup as the team looked for its second consecutive win.
The Pride got off to a good start, creating all of the chances in the first 15 minutes. In the eighth minute, Sydney Leroux was looking to feed Courtney Petersen with a through ball but the defender didn’t seem ready to make the run.
Two minutes later, the Pride got a great chance. A Jonsdottir free kick went toward the back post and was sent back across the six by the head of Carrie Lawrence. Leroux was right in front of goal to redirect it on frame but her header was right at Kansas City goalkeeper Adrianna Franch, who made the easy save.
In the 12th minute, Leah Pruitt sent a long ball for Darian Jenkins on the left. She initially got behind the defense but Jenna Winebrenner did well to recover and deflected Jenkins’ shot, allowing Franch to simply pick it up.
After spending the first 15 minutes defending, the Current made their way into the game. In the 18th minute, Victoria Pickett chipped the ball behind the Pride back line for Addie McCain. The left back got behind the defense but Erin McLeod did well to come out and collect it before McCain could shoot on goal.
Just a minute later, Kansas City had another chance when quick passing allowed for another ball over the top, this time for Pickett. McLeod came off her line again but this time Pickett used her first touch to get a shot off. Fortunately for the Pride, the ball rolled wide right of the post.
The best first-half chance for the Pride came in the 23rd minute when Hailie Mace fell, allowing Pruitt to take control of the ball in the Kansas City third. Franch forced Pruitt to the outside, but the Pride striker was able to get a shot off. Unfortunately, the ball hit the post and the Current were able to clear.
In the 27th minute, Jenkins had a chance on goal when Pruitt played her the ball at the top of the box. The midfielder’s first touch was a shot but it sailed well high of the target.
While the Pride had some chances on goal, they also squandered some opportunities for additional shots. In the 26th and 30th minutes, balls into the box by Jenkins were behind Jonsdottir in the box. Both would’ve been opportunities for the Icelandic international to shoot from a close distance.
The Current nearly opened the scoring just before the half when Lo’eau LaBonta’s shot was tipped over the crossbar by McLeod. The ensuing corner kick by Alexis Loera was headed down into the six by McCain. However, McLeod did well to collect it before any Kansas City players could get to the ball.
The Pride had more chances in the first half than the Current but the inability to put those shots on target cost them. At the break, the Pride had more shots (7-3) and crosses (11-6). This was despite having less possession (51.1%-48.9%) and fewer passes (177-164). What kept the Pride from leading after 45 minutes was that they only put two of their first-half shots on target.
Kansas City was the stronger team immediately after halftime. In the 47th minute the Current had an early breakout, but Lawrence did well in defense to keep them from getting a shot off. After a short clearance, the Current sent a cross into the box but it was too close to McLeod, allowing her to catch it.
While the visitors got off to a better second-half start, it was the Pride that struck. In the 51st minute, Jenkins sent a cross toward the back post. The ball landed at the foot of Leroux, whose beautiful first touch played it back to Jonsdottir. While the midfielder didn’t get all of the ball, she got enough of it to put it past Franch into the far corner.
“She has a nose for the goal,” Head Coach Amanda Cromwell said about the Icelandic international. “I mean, she’s committed to get in the 18, she’s committed to get on the end of crosses, and you’ve seen it, and she’ll sacrifice her body. So we’ve told her — I’ve told her many times — look for the goal. Be dangerous.”
The Pride made a couple of early second-half changes, which Cromwell attributed to heavy legs and minor injuries. At halftime, Kylie Strom came on for Celia and Kerry Abello replaced Pruitt in the 63rd minute.
Just after the second change, Winebrenner sent a ball into the box. LaBonta attempted a diving header after losing Petersen, but the attempt went just wide of the target.
The Current had another good opportunity in the 67th minute when Desiree Scott sent a low ball into the box. It got to the middle of the six but only Lawrence was there and she sent it away.
In the 71st minute, Scott sent another cross into the box, this time looking for Kristen Hamilton. A good first touch by the midfielder allowed her to turn Strom and volley the ball on goal. However, McLeod was once again up to the task, tipping the shot over the crossbar.
In the 76th minute, an Isabel Rodriguez corner found LaBonta, who put a shot on goal. It went through several players, but was deflected out of play for a corner kick. Once again, the Pride narrowly escaped and were able to clear.
A minute later, Elyse Bennett got behind Petersen on the right. As she wound up to shoot, Petersen stuck her leg out in desperation and got enough of it to send it out of play.
The ensuing corner went all the way across to LaBonta, who sent it toward the Pride’s far post. Bennett beat Petersen to the ball again, but this time got her head to the ball and put it past McLeod for the equalizer.
Following the goal, Kansas City continued the attack and pushed for a second. In the 82nd minute, Hamilton received a ball from Pickett and did well to turn Pressley. Her first touch flicked the ball up, forcing her to volley the ball towards the far post. Fortunately, it went just wide of the target.
In the 83rd minute, Chardonnay Curran’s cross was headed back down into the box for oncoming attackers. However, McLeod got to it first.
In the 86th minute, Hamilton found herself one-on-one with McLeod in the Pride box after a bad giveaway by Petersen. The Canadian goalkeeper came off her line well and made herself big, forcing Hamilton to shoot right into her body for the save.
Hamilton attempted to be the facilitator in the 89th minute when she darted down the left with two teammates charging into the box. It should’ve been the visitors’ second goal but her cross was a little too far in front and the ball went harmlessly out of play.
It seemed as though it was only a matter of time before the Current would take the lead and they did a minute into injury time. Bennett beat Petersen again and sent a low cross towards the top of the six-yard box. The ball went through the legs of second-half substitute Kate Del Fava, who left it for Hamilton to put in for what appeared to be the game-winning goal.
In the dying minutes, the Pride desperately pushed forward looking for an equalizer. Two minutes into injury time, Strom fired on target but Franch tipped it over the crossbar.
About a minute later, Strom was tripped up near the edge of the box. Initially, referee Alex Billeter indicated that the foul occurred outside the box. However, fourth official Alejo Calume said it was inside and Billeter pointed to the spot.
“Scott recklessly charged an opponent in the back,” the official word was about the incident. “The referee received information from a crew member to determine that the foul was inside the penalty area.”
“I didn’t see the replay,” Cromwell said about the call. “Apparently the replay was on the big screen and the fourth saw that it was I think in the ear. That’s my take on it.”
With Leroux having already departed the game, Pressley stepped up to take the kick. The center back powered the ball past Franch and into the roof of the net for the last-minute equalizer.
“Honestly, I was thinking just get this in the net for the team so we can get a point,” Pressley said about taking the penalty. “At least, we never want to drop points at home. We want three but to come and get the tie in the last minutes of the game. I think that’s what I was really thinking about and focusing on.”
Following the early second-half goal, Kansas City dominated the remainder of the game. As a result, the Current had more possession (52.1%-47.9%), shots (12-10), shots on target (8-5), and corners (6-2).
“The first half, I thought we played well,” Cromwell said about the game. “I thought we should have controlled the tempo more. We were hitting too many long balls, were getting too stretched, and I think wasting energy to be quite honest. And then you can see that energy that was wasted in the first half kind of come around in the second half with some tired legs, some knocks. So we were trying to protect some players with little minor injuries knowing we have a three-game week as well and hoping we could see it out.
“In hindsight, there were some decisions we could have made differently. We wanted to keep possession better and we just lost. We got overrun the last 20 minutes and we need to be better with seeing it out and being more condensed because we got way too stretched.”
While the Pride would like to have gotten three points out of this game, a draw will be a satisfying result. The Current dominated the last 20 minutes and could’ve put the game away on several occasions.
With four points in their last two games, the Pride will now travel north on short rest to take on the North Carolina Courage Wednesday night.