Saturday afternoon provided some entertaining viewing in the National Women's Soccer League as the Washington Spirit hosted the Orlando Pride. Both teams showed plenty of offensive firepower but in the end, neither team could find the winning goal to get the win as it ended at two all after 90 plus minutes. Marta was her brilliant self, Alex Morgan earned her first start of the season for the Pride and Mallory Pugh showed why the Spirit did everything possible to convince her to leave college early and join them.
Both teams trade goals by half
Both teams seemed committed in attacking as often as possible and as early as the sixth minute, Pugh's danger in the box was spotted. Estefania Banini tried to slide the ball through for Pugh on the left side of the box and the young US international then tried to pick out Francesca Ordega who was lurking in the box but Ali Krieger was on hand to cut out the danger for the Pride. Three minutes later, the game changed for the Spirit. Kasey Kallman was adjudged to have nudged Camila off the ball and the referee pointed to the spot. Marta stepped and coolly slotted away the penalty to give the visitors the lead early in the game.
The Spirit continued to press forward and got their just rewards when in the 24th minute, Banini intercepted a pass by Kristen Edmonds and pushed forward on the transition. The Argentine squared the ball to Ordega who then slipped Pugh in and the young forward cut inside onto her left foot before finishing cleanly at the near post. Tori Huster could have given the home side the lead in the 28th minute when Meggie Dougherty-Howard played her through on goal with a fantastic ball but Audrey Bledsoe stood up tall and prevented the midfielder from scoring a second. Neither team could find another goal before half-time and they went into their respective locker rooms all tied up at 1-1.
Marta amazes and Pugh gets a late equalizer
The second half went the same way as the first half with both teams creating chances for themselves. The Pride took the lead in the 56th minute when Washington failed to repeatedly clear their lines and a blocked Camila shot ended up at Mart's feet just inside the top of the box. The Brazilian took one touch before slamming the ball into the far corner of the net and giving her team the advantage. Marta almost got a spectacular third in the 64th minute when she tried to chip Stephanie Labbé from a long way out but her effort went just wide.
As the second half began to come to a close, the Spirit looked to get at least one goal back and almost found it through Cheyna Williams in the 85th minute but Bledsoe was in the right spot to catch and hang onto the shot. They left it late, but the home side found their way back into the match when substitute Kristie Mewis was brought down in the box as she tried to take on a pass from a teammate. Pugh took the responsibility upon herself to take the penalty and put the ball past Bledsoe's outstretched hand to level things up in the 90th minute. Both teams seemed to settle for the draw after that and that was how it ended at the Maryland Soccerplex.