Orlando Pride (3-2-3, 12 points) earned a 2-1 win over Portland Thorns FC on Saturday afternoon, defeating the 2017 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) champions in front of over 17,000 fans at Providence Park. The match not only marked the Pride’s first win over Portland in Club history, but extended the team’s unbeaten streak to five straight games. Forward Alex Morgan and midfielder Christine Nairn got on the scoresheet for the Pride, both putting in their first goals of the 2018 season.
The win also closed out a three-game road swing for the Pride, who went 2-0-1 over the stretch.
“I’m delighted. An absolutely unbelievable performance away from home, at the toughest play. To come and get points against a team we’ve never beaten before is fantastic,” Pride Head Coach Tom Sermanni said. “To get back up the way we did after Wednesday night was first class. I think what we showed today were all the elements required to win games like this. At times we couldn’t get the ball down and play it because Portland puts you under enormous pressure. It was very physical game. I just think the level of concentration, our work ethic and the way we were switched on was fantastic.”
The Pride got the game started early, jumping out to a 1-0 lead just 11 minutes into the match. The play started with midfielder Alanna Kennedy sending a well-placed ball to Kristen Edmonds on the run. Edmonds provided a one-touch, outswinging cross that was missed by Thorns defender Mallory Weber, and forward Morgan was waiting to pounce. The former Thorns player sent a right-footed shot to the opposite side of the goal for her first career tally over her former team.
Exactly 10 minutes later, Nairn doubled the Pride lead with a golazo, striking from well outside the penalty area. Nairn chested a ball down in the midfield and wasted no time, hitting the ball off the half-volley with her left foot with a high-rising shot that caught Portland goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom off her line.
The home side scored in the 23rd minute after Tobin Heath found Christine Sinclair on a corner kick, but the Thorns were never able to climb out of the two-goal deficit as the Pride defense held strong for the remaining 67 minutes.
Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris totaled five saves in the game including a big stop on Heath in the 52nd minute. Seconds after taking a hard challenge that kept her down for some attention, Harris denied Heath from inside the box with a stunning acrobatic save.
In her first start of the season, Rachel Hill had two opportunities to add to the Pride lead in the second half, first with a shot from distance then, in the 74th minute, on a cross from Ali Krieger but her shot sailed above the bar.
After a tough, midweek draw at Utah on Wednesday, Sermanni made five changes to his starting lineup, bringing in Hill, Edmonds and Morgan up top as well as Nairn and Toni Pressley in the midfield. The backline, which entered riding two-consecutive shutouts, remained unchanged.
The Pride will see 11 days until their next match, hosting league-leading North Carolina Courage on May 23, Orlando’s lone home game of the month. Tickets for the match are available at orlando-pride.com/tickets or by calling (855) ORL-CITY