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Pride play to draw against Sky Blue FC

Alex Morgan scores for Orlando

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Eighteen games into its expansion season, Orlando Pride picked up its first draw of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) season with a 1-1 stalemate at Sky Blue FC.

The Pride came out of the gates strong, scoring on the foot of Alex Morgan 23 minutes into a match that kicked off a home-and-home series with the New Jersey team.

The Pride will see a short turnaround before their next match, hosting Sky Blue in just three days at Camping World Stadium. It will be the third match in a week for the Pride, who have two home matches remaining in their inaugural season.

“I thought we started the game well. I thought, up until we scored, I thought we were looking comfortable and controlling the passing quite well,” Pride Head Coach Tom Sermanni said. “As the game went on, it became end-to-end and perhaps a draw is a fair result. Of course we’re disappointed, because we were in front, but if you look at chances a point apiece is probably fair.”

Morgan gave the Pride the lead in the first half, wasting no time on a well-placed ball from Maddy Evans. Evans sent the Pride captain running with a lofted ball over the Sky Blue backline, which Morgan let bounce once before firing in a shot from the arc with her left foot.

The Pride had strong chances in the remaining minutes to add to their total, but the home defense was able to deny a second goal, including clearing Jasmyne Spencer’s stoppage-time attempt off the line with a bicycle kick.

Sarah Hagen and Spencer entered the match in the second half and instantly were game changers, with Hagen nearly scoring on a header a minute after her introduction and Spencer feeding Jamia Fields moments later. However, both header attempts went just wide of the net.

Wednesday night also marked the Orlando debut for newly-acquired forward Lisa De Vanna, who came in 88 minutes in. De Vanna looked to find the game-winner in her first shot in purple, but the ball was just off target.
Australian forward Sam Kerr scored the equalizer in the 80th minute, being on the fortunate end of a terrific Ashlyn Harris save moments before. Harris, who finished with five saves, came off her line to stifle Maya Hayes’ breakaway, but Kerr ran onto the kick stop for Sky Blues’ goal.

Morgan was close to a brace in the 77th minute, but her driven shot from distance rolled wide of the far post. The forward had another chance in the 84th minute, making a turn in the box to open up her favored left foot, but she was unable to test Casey.

After Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff against Sky Blue, the Pride will close the 2016 season on Sept. 24 at 5 p.m. ET against FC Kansas City.