Sydney Leroux scores to give Orlando Pride long awaited win 1-0 over Spirit

Orlando, Florida, USA, April 21, 2021, Orlando Pride players celebrate first goal of the match at Exploria Stadium (Photo Credit: Marty Jean-Louis)

ORLANDO – The Orlando Pride (1-1-1 4 points) defeated the Washington Spirit (1-2-03 points) 1-0 at Exploria Stadium.

Sydney Leroux managed to score in the 11th minute as she slipped through to get on the receiving end of a Alex Morgan pass to put it in. It was her first goal of the season in the match and her eighth since joining the Club ahead of the 2018 NWSL season.  It was the lone goal of the match.

Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris for the second game in a row blocked a penalty kick, denying Ashley Hatch from the spot in the 65th minute. It was Harris’ second penalty kick block in two weeks.

Harris went on to have 9 saves in the match, being the key to holding on to the lead as Washington pessed for a good portion of the second half.

Orlando, Florida, USA, April 21, 2021, Orlando Pride forward Alex Morgan #13 makes a kick towards the goal at Exploria Stadium (Photo Credit: Marty Jean-Louis)

Alex Morgan returned to the Pride lineup for the first time since Aug. 21, 2019, making the start on the night in her return from international duty. Morgan proved dangerous and, in time, will be part of a strong Orlando front line, with Morgan, plus Leroux and Marta.

Orlando Head Coach Mark Skinner was thrilled by what he saw from his ears ugly victory.

““A much better situation to sit in for a result, but the best thing for me was the resilience that the group has shown.” Said Skinner. ” What we showed tonight was the resilience that we needed from this group to win ugly. That’s a clean sheet for the first time in a long, long time and that’s because our goalkeeper came up big, our defenders came up big, our midfield and our forwards. It was a whole team collective.”

“This team has so much potential, but they needed to breathe with results. I’m just over the moon for the way the victory came. It wasn’t pretty at all. We dug in and hats off to every player in the squad, every member of the staff because that was a wonderful win.”

Things were chippy in the pitch last night as referee Alex Billeter issued 8 cards for various offender, including tow for Kelley O’hara, resulting in a red card ejection in the 90+2 minute.

Orlando, Florida, USA, April 21, 2021, Washington Spirit foward Trinity Rodman #2 receives a pass during the match at Exploria Stadium (Photo Credit: Marty Jean-Louis)

On the Spirit side, new standout Trinity Rodman proved to be as fast and dangerous as advertised. The speedy forward ran down balls and provided a tough match up for Riley, who had to stay in her pocket most of the time to keep her in check.

At one point in the match, Rodman, daughter of famed basketball player Dennis Rodman, was charging up outside of the left side of the box. Riley stayed with her closely, but Rodman faked to her left, and spun around to the right to get open. she crossed the ball to no result.

Orlando was strong and confident on the ball. They are getting more and more confident in each other with each minute on the field.

The Pride did give up a goal to the Spirit I the 25th minute. The Spirit were awarded a free kick, which they turned around quickly as the Pride tried to set up their wall. The rushed Washington kick went in for a goal, and they celebrated.

Orlando, Florida, USA, April 21, 2021, Orlando Pride Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris #24 punches the ball during the match at Exploria Stadium (Photo Credit: Marty Jean-Louis)

Seconds later, the referee called the goal back, as she had not blown the whistle for the free kick. Lucke break for Orlando.

The Pride will close out its series of Challenge Cup matches on Saturday, May 1, traveling to take on the North Carolina Courage at WakeMed Soccer Park. 

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