On Saturday night, the Orlando Pride held off the Washington Spirit to earn a 4-3 victory; their second of the season. Despite winning, Orlando will remain in eighth place in the standings while the Washington Spirit have dropped from second to fourth over the course of the weekend.
The game was scheduled to kick off at 7:30, but inclement weather delayed the game for about an hour. It certainly seemed like the defenses had been left behind in the locker room as Washington's Bayley Feist found the back of the net in the 7th minute off of an assist from Cheyna Matthews. Orlando's defense has been suspect all season, and it felt like the home team was cruising towards their ninth loss of the season.
Washington took their foot off of the gas after scoring the opening goal and they paid for it shortly thereafter. In the 21st minute, Orlando forward Chioma Ubogagu was broken free by a pass from Joanna Boyles, and she dribbled the ball around Washington goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe and finished against an open net. Just five minutes later, in the 26th minute, fellow Pride forward Rachel Hill hit a cracking shot from the top of the box to give Orlando their first lead of the night.
Having taken the lead, it was the Pride's turn for a mental lapse. The defense was caught flat-footed as Tori Huster sprung Matthews in behind the defense. Orlando goalie Haley Kopmeyer couldn't save the shot and the two teams were drawn level in the 30th minute.
The game finally slowed down a bit after the flurry of goals, and the teams would head into the locker room for halftime deadlocked at two apiece.
Orlando came out from halftime firmly on the front foot. Three minutes after the whistle restarted play, Marta trapped a high pass in the box, spun around, and sent a hard shot past the hands of Bledsoe to give Orlando the lead once again. The goal was Marta's first since returning from the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup.
For the next 20 minutes, Washington was able to generate a lot of shot attempts, but they were never able to put a dangerous shot on frame. Things happened quickly when Orlando won a free kick in their own half in the 78th minute. The dead ball was played forward, and it somehow bounced straight past the Washington back line with Marta chasing it down. She was able to beat the defense to the ball, and noticed that Bledsoe had drifted out of goal to make an attempt on the ball. Marta calmly chipped her to get the brace and put Orlando up 4-2.
The defenses remained unavailable for the duration of the game, but both teams missed a few extremely easy opportunities. As the clock ticket through stoppage time, Washington continued to try to catch the game. in the 94th minute, Sam Staab capitalized off of a poor clearance and knifed her way through five defenders before finishing into the far corner.
That would be the final goal of the game, and Orlando would get their second victory of the season.
The Orlando Pride will travel to face off against Portland Thorns FC in the first ESPN broadcast of the season. Washington will have a week off to recover from this loss.