National Women’s Soccer League action continued with an eventful day of matches on Saturday. A scheduled triple header of games was reduced to two after NJ/NY Gotham FC and North Carolina Courage were impacted by COVID-19. In other action, Orlando Pride hosted Kansas City Current, and Racing Louisville FC faced Houston Dash, as both matches resulted in draws.
Let’s take a look at how the games played out:
Gotham and Courage postponed
On Friday, the league announced the new COVID replacement player policy for the 2022 season that would allow teams to sign emergency replacement players in the event that they cannot field a sufficient roster due to the virus protocols. Based on current matchday protocols, teams are able to compete with a minimum of 14 eligible players. The new policy will allow teams to sign replacement players to build out matchday rosters to a minimum of 18 players.
The new policy will be effect for the next 60 days and then reevaluated by the league and NWSL Players Association.
Matchday availability reports issued on Friday also listed several players out for NJ/NY Gotham FC and North Carolina Courage. Between the two teams, 11 players were listed as out due to COVID protocols 24 hours ahead of kickoff.
As a result of so many key player absences ahead of the game, an announcement was made that the match between the two clubs would be postponed and rescheduled to a later date.
The two have played each other twice already, as both teams we placed in the east region group during the 2022 Challenge Cup. North Carolina Courage defeated Gotham FC in their first match, 2-0, before the two clubs settled for 1-1 draw in their second meeting. North Carolina won the east region and went on to become Challenge Cup champions.
Orlando Pride secure a point
Orlando Pride hosted Kansas City Current, and the Florida side came from behind in stoppage time to secure a 2-2 draw.
Kansas City rookie Elyse Bennett nailed an equalizer, and forward Kristen Hamilton scored a go-head goal in the 90th minute before some stoppage time chaos ensued. A challenge in the box led to a late penalty for Orlando, and after some deliberation between officials confirmed the call, veteran cetnerback Toni Pressley converted the attempt to steal back a result for the Pride.
As Orlando continues their rebuild, new head coach Amanda Cromwell and the club earned their first victory last week against Angel City FC, and with Saturday’s result, the Pride are now undefeated in their last two matches.
Racing and Dash stumble out the gate
Racing Louisville FC and Houston Dash met for the third time this year after playing each other twice during the 2022 Challenge Cup. The familiarity between the sides may have led to some early physical play, after a scoreless first half with few dangerous moments in the final third.
Despite retaining a majority of the possession with 62 percent, Louisville failed to record any attempts on target during the first 45 minutes, as Houston headed into halftime with six total shots and two shots on goal. The breakthrough goal didn’t happen for either side until the closing 15 minutes of the game, as Houston capitalized on a corner kick opportunity to take the lead.
Dash winger Maria Sanchez’s service into the box was headed off the post by midfielder Ally Prisock, and that led to a chance for Nichelle Prince to head in the opening goal.
Racing responded just five minutes later with an equalizer as midfielder Lauren Milliet connected with Jessica McDonald in the box during the 82nd minute.
The two sides had to settle for 1-1 draw as time expired, putting an end to a choppy game that had 11 fouls by Louisville and 15 from Houston.
NWSL action continues on Paramount+ on Sunday as two teams face each other for the first time. San Diego Wave FC will try to extend their win streak against Chicago Red Stars, and 2021 NWSL Champions Washington Spirit face new expansion side Angel City FC. Both games kick off at 5 p.m. ET.