Christen Press and Amy Rodriguez will need a nickname for their pairing if they keep performing like this.
Press and Rodriguez each scored a goal for the second straight game in the Utah Royals FC’s 2-0 win over the Orlando Pride on Saturday. It was Utah’s third consecutive win overall and it completed a season sweep of the Pride.
“Really excited about the three points,” Rodriguez said. “That was really crucial coming into tonight. [Coach] Laura [Harvey] had put on our radar that this was a must-win game for us, and I think we went out there and did what we needed to do to win.”
The win put the Royals in the fourth and final playoff spot in the National Women’s Soccer League. Utah hasn’t been in the playoff picture in almost two months.
Press started the scoring for the Royals in the 60th minute. Lo’eau Labonta chipped a ball over the defense to Press, who took it out of the air and finished it despite a deflection from Orlando goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris.
Just 17 minutes later, Veronica Boquete placed a through ball just ahead of Rodriguez, who chipped her shot on frame. Harris got a glove on it, but the ball landed inside the goal anyway for a 2-0 lead.
“I think we knew tonight they were gonna throw absolutely everything at us, and they did that,” Harvey said. “Maybe a little bit of luck went our way at times.”
Throughout the first half, the Royals had several good opportunities to score. The best came in the 29th minute when Rodriguez received a pass from Press on a breakaway. Rodriguez, with only Harris to beat, shot but hit the left post. The ball rebounded to Katie Stengel for her attempt, but Harris was there to save that one.
Utah amassed five shots on goal in the first 45 minutes, while Orlando only mustered one. The Royals also won the possession battle in the first half.
The Royals have now scored eight goals in their previous three games, and conceded only one goal in that span.
“The team’s playing good right now,” Rodriguez said. “I think that we’ve got a solid midfield going right now and the girls are working hard. We’re doing all the gritty work, which Laura [Harvey] loves and wants us to do, and we brought it tonight. We weren’t gonna leave tonight without three points and that’s what we did.”