GK Harris turns in vintage performance in NWSL Challenge Cup
By Official Florida FC
Ashlyn Harris produced an exhibition that surely caught the attention of U.S. women’s national team head coach Vlatko Andonovski on Wednesday night at Exploria Stadium.
The Orlando Pride were the beneficiaries of her brilliance.
Harris made nine saves to help the Pride (1-1-1, 4 points) win their first NWSL Challenge Cup match with a 1-0 win over the Washington Spirit (1-2, 3 points). The result was Orlando’s first clean sheet at Exploria Stadium since July 20, 2019.
The Pride lined up in a 4-3-3 system. Alex Morgan started for the first time in the season, after being away on U.S. women’s national team duty for the season-opening result against Louisville and a loss to Gotham FC in the home opener on April 14.
Washington had a pair of chances in the first 10 minutes. But the Spirit put one effort over the crossbar and witnessed Harris punch away their second effort in the 10th minute.
Washington’s wastefulness would soon cost them. Sydney Leroux scored her first goal of thee season in the 11th minute. Morgan threaded a ball into Leroux’s path and the former USWNT forward found the far corner with her first touch.
As was the case in the season-opener against Louisville, Orlando allowed far too many opportunities. Washington’s Ashley Hatch drew a penalty shortly after the hour mark. Her penalty kick was saved in the 65th minute.
The Pride will close out their four-match slate in the NWSL Challenge Cup on May 1 against the North Carolina Courage (1-1, 3 points) in Cary, North Carolina.