The Washington Spirit controlled the match for 94 of the 99 minutes played but the Orlando Pride scored twice in the final three to force a sharing of the points at 2-2. Until the final minutes, the Spirit used incredible strikes from Trinity Rodman and Ashley Hatch to go up 2-0. Then, with the match winding down, the referee allowed a lot of stoppage time and Orlando waited until the last minutes to net twice through Mikayla Cluff and Darian Jenkins.
The match began with the Spirit taking the pitch in all black ‘ENOUGH.’ shirts and a moment of silence from both teams over the recent mass shootings in Buffalo, NY and Uvalde, TX.
The Washington Spirit dominated a lot of the possession early and probed for openings. In the 11th minute they work their best chance so far by getting Trinity Rodman free down the wing. Her low fizzed cross gets touched away from Ashley Sanchez but spins to Audrey Harding in front of the box but she scuffs her shot wide.
The collision shook up Carrie Lawrence who stayed down for a while to receive treatment. Eventually she got back to her feet but walked off gingerly.
In the 17th minute Rodman creates another opportunity with a deep cross that falls for Hatch in the box but last year’s Golden Boot winner can’t get much power in the shot and rolls to McLeod.
The pressure paid as Rodman hit a thunderous low strike from a ridiculous angle outside the box. Spirit pressure created a high turnover and Rodman had time and space to line up a shot but still caught just about everybody by surprise, including McLeod. The keeper did her best but the shot had too much power, and perfect placement.
Minutes later the woodwork preserved the Spirit’s lead as Darian Jenkins’s shot ricocheted off the post. But the Spirit’s high press continued to disrupt the Pride’s buildup and prevent them from being able to pick out passes to feet. However, the referee didn’t appreciate some of Washington’s pressing intensity and issued an early yellow card to Bayley Feist, and one to Ashley Sanchez minutes before halftime.
At halftime the Spirit lead 1-0 thanks to a brilliant strike from Rodman. There were some nervy moments, particularly after the goal, but Washington’s press continued to disrupt Orlando.
Slick passing sees Bayley Feist clean through on goal but McLeod comes out and is able to make herself big enough to deflect the ball behind for a corner. Sullivan’s corner floated over the head of McLeod but landed straight onto Sam Staab’s forehead who was free at the back post but couldn’t put it on target.
Washington then benefited from a bit of a calamitous moment from the Pride in the 66th minute. Megan Montefusco hits a hard pass that strikes teammate Vivina Villacorta in the back and bounces to Sanchez’s feet. Hatch recognizes the danger immediately and makes a darting diagonal run across Montefusco and Sanchez finds her in stride. Hatch’s powerful left footed shot flies by McLeod to double the Spirit’s lead.
Both teams made a bunch of substitutions and appeared to be easing their way to full time. Then, with what seemed to surely be the last action of the game, Mikayla Cluff put a glancing header by Kingsbury to get Orlando on the board. Inexplicably, play continued for another two minutes, and in the 98th minute of the six added, the ball found Darian Jenkins in space on the left side of the box which she slotted into the far side netting to tie the match 2-2.
Somehow, confoundingly and with an assist from the ref, the Spirit turned three points into one in the final minutes of (a lot of) stoppage time. In a stretch of dropped points, the Spirit drop a few more, but this time from a seemingly impossible situation. In a league that’s hard to make up points, looking back on this stretch at the end of the season might prove frustrating.
NWSL Regular Season
Orlando Pride - 2 (Cluff 90+5’, Jenkins 90+8’)
Washington Spirit - 2 (Rodman 19’, Hatch 66’)
Pride (4231): McLeod; Petersen (Doyle, 78’), Cluff, Lawrence (Pressley, 78’), Jiménez (Abello, 62’); Montefusco, Villacorta; Leroux, Jónsdóttir (Listro, 78’), Jenkin; Pruitt (Kim, 67’)
Spirit (4231): Kingsbury; Roddar (Biegalski, 45’), Staab, Sonnett, Heilferty (Goff, 58’); Feist (Brooks, 73’), Sullivan (Aylmer, 58’); Hatch (Elwell, 85’), Sanchez, Rodman; Harding (Alexander, 73’)
Pride - Montefusco 76’
Spirit - Feist 22’, Sanchez 42’, Hatch 75’, Rodman 81’, Brooks 90’