NWSL Challenge Cup: Harris’ heroics lead Pride to victory over Spirit
The Orlando Pride defeated the Spirit 1-0 thanks to a goalkeeping master class from Ashlyn Harris.
The Spirit started off strong. An opportunity from Ashley Hatch in the 9th minute was promising, but it just missed the top of the net. Hatch’s look on goal was one of many for the Spirit but the Pride were the first to get on the board off of a Sydney Leroux goal in the 11th minute.
A free kick in the 25th minute led to a fantastic goal from defender Kelley O’Hara in the 25th minute but it was taken back by the referee, denying the Spirit the equalizer.
The decision to call O’Hara’s goal back was not the only questionable call made in the first half. The referee issued a slew of yellow cards that were unwarranted and only stood to disrupt the flow of the match.
Throughout the second half, the Spirit were on the doorstep but were unable to put one in the back of the net. A Spirit penalty kick in the 64th minute was the teams most clear cut opportunity of the night but it was denied brilliantly by Ashlyn Harris. Harris has saved two penalties in back to back matches.
Alex Morgan looked to extend the Pride's lead in the 71st minute with a simple tap in but an excellent save from Aubrey Bledsoe kept Morgan from adding to the Pride's tally
With 22 shots on goal and 10 corner kicks, the Spirit had countless opportunities in the box but Harris was able to shut down all of the Spirit’s looks on goal.
As the pressure built in the waning moments of the game, a second yellow card was issued to Kelley O’Hara in the 86th minute after challenging Alex Morgan on the sideline. Though her night was cut short, O’Hara had an extraordinary debut for the Spirit, generating multiple shots on goal and threatening crosses.
Spirit player of the match: Kelley O'Hara
Pride player of the match: Ashlyn Harris
Next up: The Spirit will face off against New Jersey/New York Gotham FC on Tuesday, April 27th on Paramount+