Late goal by Evans gives Orlando Pride draw in Home Opener

Written by Rafael Morrazzani
Rookie Danica Evans scores her first career NWSL goal to help the Orlando Pride to a draw with Washington Saturday April 22nd 2017 at Orlando City Stadium in Orlando, FL. (Credit: James Leyva/ The SkyBoat)
(Orlando, FL) – In their home opener, the Orlando Pride drew with the Washington Spirit in their home opener 1-1 Saturday night at Orlando City Stadium as Danica Evans notched her first ever NWSL late in the match. Forward Marta, who arrived in Orlando on Thursday, got a chance to make her debut in the 2nd half to an eruption or applause from the home fans.

Washington was more effective and accurate on the first 45 minutes. They registered six shots on target, whereas the Pride had none. However, the Pride slowly woke up and improved their performance.

The match did not see any goals until minute 60 when Washington’s forward, Line Sigvardsen Jensen, netted a header from the box line. Despite the efforts ofgoalkeeper and captain Ashlyn Harris, she had nothing to do but to look for the ball inside the net. However, the Pride was not down yet. In the 86th minute, forward Danica Evans received the ball inside the box, then, with an outstanding technique, she managed to turn and lose the defender behind her. When Evans faced goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé, instead of taking the shot, she dribbled past Labbé and scored the tie for the Pride.

The crowd went crazy after Evans tied the match. “After I scored I ran alone and I slid, next thing I know everybody on the team was on me” said Evans at a postgame interview. “After I got up, I saw the smoke bomb and said, ‘Oh my god I have never lived this’.” she concluded. This was Evans’ first goal at the National Women’s Soccer League.

The 5-time FIFA World Player of the Year Winner, Marta, made her debut Saturday after substituting in for midfielder Monica for the Pride in the 59’ minute. Marta’s entrance had a positive impact on Pride’s last quarter of the field. She created several chances for the team and boosted the motivation of the other girls. At the 90th minute, Marta had the chance of scoring the winner after receiving a long pass and running by herself against Labbé, but her shot went just an inch wide.

Moreover, defender Jamia Fields was substituted by defender Laura Alleway at 43rdminute. The sub came because of an injury at the hip-flexor. However, Pride’s coach, Tom Sermanni, says: “it doesn’t seem too serious.”Fields substitution carried some changes on the back-line because she was playing as a right-back and, after the substitution, Alleway went as a center-back and veteran Ali Krieger went as a right-back.

Goalkeeper Harris was name player of the match thanks to the constant interventions she made throughout the game. Besides, it is important to remark the work of midfielder Dani Weatherholt who was all over the place and played a great match. The 23-year-old appears to have duct tape on her cleats because of the amazing ball control she has.

The Pride sums their first point the 2017 season after losing their first match 2-0 against Portland Thorns. Same case for Washington Spirit who lost at their home stadium, the Maureen Hendricks Field, 0-1 against North Caroline Courage.

Pride’s line-up was: [G] Ashlyn Harris (C); [D] Jamia Fields, Ali Krieger, Alanna Kennedy, Steph Catley; [M] Monica, Dani Weatherholt; Jasmyne Spencer, Kristen Edmonds, Camilinha; [F] Chioma Ubogagu.

Washington started with: [G] Stephanie Labbé; [D] Estelle Johnson, Whitney Church, Shelina Zardorsky, Kassey Kallman; [M] Tori Huster, Alyssa Kleiner, Kristie Mewis; [F] Line Sigvarsden Jensen, Katie Stengel, Havana Solaun.

The Orlando Pride will face North Carolina at the WakeMed Soccer Park on April 29th, 2017. Whereas, Washington Spirit will face Houston Dash at their home stadium, Maureen Hendricks Field, on April 29th, 2017 as well.

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