The Washington Spirit (3-6-3, 12 pts) played the Orlando Pride (4-5-4, 16 pts) to a 2-2 draw on Saturday afternoon in the first ever NWSL Lifetime Game of the Week played at the Maryland SoccerPlex in front of 5,200 fans.
After trailing for the majority of the second half, Washington equalized in the 90th minute on a penalty kick earned by Kristie Mewis and converted by U.S. Women’s National Team forward Mallory Pugh, who recorded the first brace of her professional career in the draw.
“I’m extremely proud of the team and how they continued to fight to the finish,” said Spirit head coach and general manager Jim Gabarra. “I’m especially pleased with how many chances we created at the end of the game and continued to fight to try and get three points.”
Five-time FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year Marta struck the net once in each half, putting Orlando on top 1-0 in the 10th minute with a converted PK, and again 11 minutes into the second half on an unassisted shot from the center of the box into the bottom right corner of the goal.
Pugh scored a goal in each half for the Spirit, equalizing once in the 24th minute and again in the 90th. Her first score came on a left-footed strike from the center of the box, placing the shot inside the right post after receiving a perfectly-placed entry pass from Nigeria Women’s National Team forward Francisca Ordega. The assist marked Ordega’s team-leading third of the season. The goal was set up by Argentine international Estefanía Banini jumping a pass intended for Orlando’s Kristen Edmounds. Banini raced toward the goal and played a pass to Ordega who worked the ball to Pugh.
Washington outshot Orlando 18-16 overall, and recorded seven shots on target to the Pride’s four. Orlando controlled 56.5 percent of the possession to the Spirit’s 43.5.
Midfielder Tori Huster led the Spirit with 48 total passes in the game, followed by Banini and Pugh with 44 and 40, respectively. Orlando’s Alanna Kennedy led all players with 60 total passes, two more than Stephanie Catley’s 58.
On the defensive side, Estelle Johnson had a team-high six clearances and four interceptions for the Spirit. Kassey Kallman, Caprice Dydasco, Meggie Dougherty Howard and Huster notched three tackles each to lead Washington.
Orlando’s Kristen Edmonds had a game-high five tackles and Ali Krieger led all players with nine clearances and four blocks. Canadian international goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé made two saves for the Spirit, while Orlando’s Aubrey Bledsoe made five in the draw.
The Spirit will play its next four games on the road, starting with a trip to Texas to face the Houston Dash next Saturday, July 15. The team will play its next home game at the Maryland SoccerPlex on Saturday, August 12 against the Boston Breakers. Tickets for all Washington Spirit home games are available now at Tickets.WashingtonSpirit.com.
Top: Mallory Pugh (11) celebrates her first of two goals in the game with her teammates.
Next: Orlando’s legendary Marta (10) nets her second goal of the game as she put the ball past three Spirit defenders and goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé (1).
Next: Mallory Pugh (11) had two goals in the game to earn her first brace as a professional.
Next: Spirit forward Francisca Ordega (14) takes a shot as Orlando defenders Maddy Evans (18) and Dani Weatherholt (17) attempt to block the shot.
Next: Spirit midfielder Meggie Dougherty-Howard (29) and Orlando’s Alana Kennedy (14) each jump to head a ball during Saturday’s Spirit game.
Next: Spirit midfielder Tori Huster (23) had a breakaway chance in the first half but Orlando goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe was able to get a hand on it and send it just wide of the goal.
Photos by Germantown Pulse.