TAMPA, Fla. (March 30, 2016) - Orlando Pride improved to 3-0-0 on the preseason with a 3-0 shutout win at the University of South Florida in a closed-door friendly on Wednesday afternoon. The Pride saw goals from three different players, including a second-half score from newly-arrived defender Steph Catley.
“Our tempo was a bit slow early but I thought, in the second half, we stepped up the tempo and started to get our passing a little bit better,” said Pride Head Coach Tom Sermanni. “I think we still have a little bit of work to do to get up to match-fitness level and some work to do tactically, but now is when you start to look seriously at what the starting lineup and formation can be for the first game, and that is becoming clearer.”
The Pride has been dominant in the preseason thus far, outscoring opponents 16-1 over its three matches.
Though the Club was without preseason-leading goalscorer Alex Morgan and goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris - both whom are away on international duty - the Pride found rhythm on the offensive end and kept the Bulls off the scoreboard all match.
Forward Jasmyne Spencer proved to be a dangerous target for the Pride in her 45-minute performance, using her speed to create numerous chances in her second start of the preseason.
Eighteen minutes in, Lianne Sanderson played a well-paced ball through the Bulls’ backline, allowing Spencer to accelerate onto it. The forward looked as if she would have a chance at the breakaway, but USF goalkeeper Kat Elliott was able to come off her line to slide on the ball.
Spencer, however, found the back of the net just a minute later on a similar play on the right side - this time on a through ball from Sarah Hagen. Spencer wasted no time on the opportunity, using the clear shooting lane to slot the ball into the back on the net and put the Pride up 1-0.
After making her Pride debut in the 36th minute, Catley nearly connected with Spencer for the game’s second goal, but a USF defender was able to get a last-second deflection to send the ball out. The Matilda came close to a goal of her own in the 62nd minute, blasting a shot off the crossbar on a set piece from 25-yards out.
Catley would eventually get on the board with the game’s final goal, with a strong finish inside the box in the 74th minute.
Fellow Australian Laura Alleway also made her first appearance in purple on Wednesday, entering the match after the halftime break.
The Pride doubled its lead eight minutes into the second half, with Sanderson finding Monica on a corner kick, as the Brazilian beat the Bulls’ defense and headed in the service from a few feet out. It was the second time the duo has linked up off the corner after scoring in similar fashion in the Pride’s 8-0 opener at Eastern Florida State College.
Goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe secured the clean sheet in the 86th minute with a fantastic save on a USF corner kick, denying a Bulls’ player on a point-blank volley.
The Pride will look to close the preseason with a fourth and final win on Saturday when it faces Florida State University in a closed-door match.
Tickets to the Pride’s April 23 home opener against Carli Lloyd and the Houston Dash are on sale now and can be purchased at orlando-pride.com/singlegametickets.
|1||19||Jasmyne Spencer||Sarah Hagen|
|3||77||Steph Catley||Maddy Evans|