The Thorns used a late push to rally for a 2-1 victory in Orlando on Sunday night to remain undefeated ahead of the departure of several key players. One of them, Lindsay Horan, stuck the match-winner in the 90th minute to send the expansion Pride to their first ever loss at Camping World Stadium.
After an opening half that saw the Pride do well to keep the Thorns at bay while creating a few chances in the attacking third they struck in 67th minute to take the first lead of the evening. Stephanie Catley sent a long ball that put Thorns keeper Michelle Betos’s decision making to the test. The 2015 Goalkeeper of the Year came out and won the ball from former teammate Alex Morgan. But the ball came to Jasmyne Spencer who settled it and unleashed a furious shot just as Betos was getting settled back in after scrambling back to her line. The shot easily beat Betos to the left post, Spencer’s second in as many matches following her dramatic game-winner against the Dash on Thursday.
Clearly tired and facing their first defeat of the season the Thorns put forth a late push following the second half hydration break. Resorting to a direct style the Thorns pounced immediately. After Horan nearly got one when she snuck between and behind two Pride defenders only to shoot wide, the Thorns made good use of Dagny Brynjarsdottir, a late sub for the second straight week after losing her starting nod to Amandine Henry.
In the 79th minute, Emily Sonnnet boomed a ball over the midfield and Christine Sinclair went up and put a perfect flick on it to find Brynjarsdottir. The first-year Thorn outpaced Josee Belanger and beat Ashlyn Harris with her first touch.
The Pride never recovered from conceding the equalizer and the Thorns never stopped pushing. As the clock approached 90 minutes, Sinclair stretched the Pride defense with a switching ball into the ball that eluded Belanger and fell to Hayley Raso. The Australian took one touch back toward goal to Horan who took one touch and scored to give the Thorns the 2-1 victory.
The goals by Brynjarsdottir and Horan mimicked the season opener in Portland when the Pride went ahead on the Thorns and the same two players scored to reverse the scoreline to 2-1 Thorns.
Thorns midfielder Tobin Heath left early and was seen having her left leg worked on. She earlier went to the bench favoring her left arm but quickly returned to the match.
Both teams now face uncertainty with their personnel as several teams including the United States will call away players this week to begin Olympic preparations. The Thorns (6-0-5, 23 pts) now stand alone with the second longest unbeaten streak in league history (Seattle Reign FC, 16) and are five points clear in first place. They return home to host Sky Blue FC on Saturday night. The Pride (5-6-0, 15 pts) remain off the playoff pace and are off next week before hosting the Boston Breakers on Sunday, July 10.
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