Despite what head coach Marc Skinner called the Orlando Pride‘s “worst performance as a team,” the home side managed to score a last-second goal thanks to magic from Sydney Leroux, to snatch a point from the jaws of defeat, drawing 1-1 against Racing Louisville on Friday night at Exploria Stadium.
“We have a spirit where the players never give up,” head coach Marc Skinner said following the game. “And when you have a spirit like that, you can build and build and build. I don’t think I’ve ever, ever thought we’re anywhere near a finished product but what we are is well on the way to becoming that. Their energy commitment again for each other is just outstanding. They dug themselves out of a hole. I think we didn’t play well to allow Louisville into a game and again, they’ve not had many chances. But as I say, not a great performance from us but a wonderful desire to stay in the game and get back into it.”
The Pride’s first half performance was one to forget. Between missing passes, positional errors, miscommunications, and turnovers, it led to some very nervy moments for the home side.
Those mistakes came to a head in the 21st minute, when Ebony Salmon got in behind the Pride backline, shoved off the incoming Ali Krieger and scored past Ashlyn Harris to make it 1-0 Louisville.
“I think the coaches give us the game plan how to be organized and we just weren’t executing,” defender Ali Riley said after the match. “We were pressing disjointedly. If one person did a high press and it wasn’t the right decision, and all of a sudden the next person was going and the next person was going in, and that’s how they scored. They broke our press and then a dangerous ball in behind. At this level, teams are good enough to finish on a chance like that, and I think it’s very much in terms of not winning 50-50 balls. We want to hold them down one side and not doing that, that really showed and that’s unacceptable and it’s something we talked about week in and week out.”
The second half was better for the Pride, but there were only a few chances created offensively. Their first shot on target didn’t come until the 83rd minute, when Sydney Leroux headed a ball right at Michelle Betos.
As the waning stages of the match came and went, the Pride threw the kitchen sink at Louisville, sending everyone into the box as extra time began.
In the fourth minute of a minimum of five added on, Ashlyn Harris booted a ball from midfield into the attacking third. The ball missed everyone and somehow found Sydney Leroux in the box to tap home, rescuing a point for the Pride almost at the death.
Quote of the Match
After being asked to talk about her game-tying goal and if they had worked on anything like that in training, Sydney Leroux said:
“To be honest, I have no idea what happened I blacked out and the next thing you know, the ball was in the back of the net. So, no, we haven’t really worked on that but hey, it worked.”
The Pride head on the road to take on the Portland Thorns on Sunday, July 18th at 10:30 p.m. on Paramount+.
21′ – Ebony Salmon (LOU)
90′+4 – Sydney Leroux, assisted by Taylor Kornieck (ORL)
How the Pride lined up
Orlando Pride XI: Ashlyn Harris (c); Courtney Petersen (Kylie Strom 86′), Toni Pressley (Amy Turner, 59′), Ali Krieger, Ali Riley; Crystal Thomas (Abi Kim, 69′), Gunny Jónsdóttir, Meggie Dougherty Howard (Konya Plummer, 86′), Erika Tymrak(Chelsee Washington, 69′); Sydney Leroux, Taylor Kornieck.
Substitutes: Brittany Wilson, Erin McLeod, Konya Plummer, Abi Kim.
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