On Saturday night, the Orlando Pride played their inaugural home match against the Houston Dash. It was a night for the history books, with 23,403 fans coming out to break the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) attendance record and the Pride taking home their first win of the season. The substitution of midfielder Lianne Sanderson at the start of the second half proved to be a game changer, with Sanderson scoring the Pride’s second goal of the match in the 56th minute.
“In my career, I’ve scored about three goals like that,” Sanderson said after the match. “I knew exactly what I was going to do and I saw the goalkeeper line up on the near post and I knew if I bent in and it was going to go in.”
Sanderson impressed not only the Orlando Pride fans, but her Head Coach Tom Sermanni. “She’s a great player and most players stop paying attention during a dead ball and she asked the ref, he said yes, and next thing you know it’s in the back of the net,” Sermanni said after the match. “Lianne is a gifted player, she can make an impact in the game. The key for us is bringing her on during our open opportunities when she is needed and tonight is a great example of those moments.”
With the first goal of the match being an own goal by the Houston Dash, Sanderson’s free kick in the 56th minute marked the first goal scored by an Orlando Pride player at the Citrus Bowl. Sanderson was just happy to help her team.
“Obviously coming at halftime, I was quite happy to do that,” Sanderson said. “I’ll help the team any way I can.”