After long, frustrating droughts, the Orlando Pride enjoyed vaulting into National Women’s Soccer League playoff position with a record-setting home win late Saturday night.
Orlando defeated Sky Blue FC 5-0 in front of announced crowd of 5,243 at Orlando City Stadium, brushing off a nearly hour-long lightning delay before the start of the match and bringing their own electricity to the pitch. The Pride recorded the most goals in a game in franchise history.
“I was obviously very, very pleased with the performance tonight. I think it was a comprehensive win,” coach Tom Sermanni said. “I was really happy with how we played. I thought we looked really tight defensively and we kept possession more consistent than we had been doing before.”
It didn’t take long for the Pride (7-6-5, 26 points) to grab the lead. In the fourth minute, Marta found Alex Morgan in the box off a long pass from midfield. Morgan, who had some space from her defender, fired a shot past goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan, giving Orlando an early 1-0 advantage. It was the fastest that Orlando had ever scored in a game.
“Starting it off with a goal early in the first half, I felt like we controlled the game from start to finish,” Morgan said. “And you really just saw another level to our team tonight.”
After Morgan’s goal, both teams had long stretches of holding onto the ball, but they had difficulty generating many good looks early in the half.
Sky Blue (7-9-2, 23 points) came close to tying the game up in the 23rd minute when Sam Kerr found some space just outside the box and fired a ground shot right at the Pride’s goal. Ashlyn Harris, who was playing in her first game in more than two months, managed to save it and preserve Orlando’s lead.
Throughout the rest of the half, the Pride managed to generate a lot of chances. Orlando finally added to its lead just before halftime. In the 43rd minute, Camila slipped past two defenders and sent a cross in to Dani Weatherholt, who buried a short range shot in the back of the net to give the Pride a 2-0 lead.>
Coming out of halftime, the Pride wasted no time building on their lead. In the 47th minute, Spencer passed to Morgan in the box, who had got ahead of several defenders for a one-on-one matchup with Sheridan.
Morgan fired a ground shot into the bottom right of the net, scoring her second goal of the night and giving Orlando a commanding 3-0 lead.
A few minutes later, a Sky Blue mishap lead to another goal for the Pride. Spencer sent a cross into the box, which Sheridan tried to save. The ball bounced out of her hands, however, and into the air in front of Marta, who headed it in to give Orlando a 4-0 lead.
Five minutes later, Orlando’s lead grew once again. Marta got the ball from Morgan off a long range pass, racing past her defender and firing a shot past Sheridan to give the Pride a 5-0 lead.
Orlando almost went up 6-0 in the 66th minute when Spencer was taken down in the box and earned a penalty kick.
Maddy Evans, who was playing her final game before retiring, took the kick. Sheridan dove and deflected the ball.
It didn’t dampen the outpouring of support for Evans, who was saluted by teammates and her fans.
Despite being one of the better-scoring teams in the league, Sky Blue could not respond throughout the rest of the match, and the Pride went on to win 5-0.
After wrapping up a three-game home stand against Sky Blue, the Pride will head back on the road to take on the Boston Breakers on Saturday.
If the first-place North Carolina Courage defeat the Seattle Reign Sunday night, the Pride will hold onto fourth place in the NWSL, sitting above the league’s playoff cut line for the first time.>
Sky Blue FC at Orlando Pride women's soccer game at Orlando City Stadium on Saturday, August 12, 2017. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel)
Source : http://www.orlandosentinel.com/sports/orlando-pride-soccer/os-sp-orlando-pride-sky-blue-fc-0813-story.html