A wild night of back-and-forth soccer that included one of the all-time highlight reel goals from Sam Kerr finally culminated in Rachel Hill heading in her first professional goal to give the Orlando Pride a 3-2 away victory over Sky Blue FC. After a 1-1 opening half, Kerr put Sky Blue ahead with a magnificent bicycle-kick goal in the first minute of the second half, but two late Pride goals earned them the full spoils on the night.
On a picturesque evening in New Jersey, the Pride struck first through Chioma Ubogagu. Kristen Edmonds sent a ball ahead to Ubogagu on the right side of the penalty area. Mandy Freeman’s attempt to thwart the attack left the ball dead between them, and Ubogagu collected it before scoring to the far post with her left foot.
Sky Blue took hold of the match though and earned not one but two penalties in the opening stanza. In the 20th minute, Daphne Corboz used some fancy footwork to beat two Pride defenders at the edge of the area and win a penalty from Ali Krieger. Sarah Killion went to the spot per usual and drove a low shot, but Aubrey Bledsoe guessed right and made the save diving to her left. For Killion it meant a dubious NWSL record of failing to convert on a third consecutive penalty. She had made seven straight before that.
The penalties were not over though. On the stroke of halftime, Taylor Lytle played Kerr through and, after having to stop and gather herself to maintain control upon entering the box, Kerr was fouled from behind by Stephanie Catley. This time Kelley O’Hara had the honors and she did not miss, hitting the upper corner even as Bledsoe guessed correctly again.
In the opening minute of the second half, Corboz sent a ball up the left for Maya Hayes. Her attempt to turn the corner on Krieger led to the ball being knocked away and it appeared to be going out of play. But Hayes hustled after it and got there in time to knock it toward the front of the goal. That’s where Kerr leaped into the air and blasted one as she tumbled over, leaving Blesdoe and covering defender Alanna Kennedy helpless.
— NWSL (@NWSL) June 29, 2017
There were still more twists. In the 77th minute, Marta was gifted an acre of space to pass through midfield and laid off a pass to Hill, who then found Catley on an overlap. Catley’s cross went to a gaggle of Sky Blue players, but Freeman made a poor clearing attempt that went straight back to Marta, who hit it first time to level the proceedings yet again.
The Pride got the last laugh in the 86th minute, and again it was Marta who held up play and created space for Catley. The left back hit a tremendous far post cross, and Hill went up and headed it in before being mobbed by teammates in celebration.
The Pride (4-4-3, 15 pts) have now won three of their last four and will face a stern test at home Saturday night against the Red Stars. Sky Blue (5-6-1, 16 pts) are back on the road to face the Courage on Saturday afternoon.
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