Kristie Mewis converted her penalty kick. (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
HARRISON, N.J. – NJ/NY Gotham FC finished the Challenge Cup with a 1-1 draw against the Orlando Pride at Red Bull Arena on Saturday night.
After falling behind, 1-0, Kristie Mewis leveled the game with her second penalty kick of the tournament in the 45th minute.
Gotham FC (1-2-3, 6 points) finished the competition in third place in the East grouping.
“I think we have so much potential this group,” head coach Scott Parkinson said in a statement. “I think it’s just about building those partnerships and inching forward. I think we’ll be very good. We wish we had some better results in the Challenge Cup, but I’m looking forward to the regular season.”
Orlando’s goal came off a corner kick when Angharad James lofted one that was headed in by Gunnhildur Jónsdóttir in the 10th minute.
After fairly level play for much of the half, Gotham FC increased the pace before Ifeoma Onumonu was tripped up in the box. Mewis converted the PK with a left-footed strike to equalize at 1-1.
In stoppage time, Onumonu just missed scoring. The forward fended off a defender and pushed a shot just to the left of the frame.
Gotham FC continued to build momentum in the second half and held a decisive edge in possession, quality chances and passing. However, Gotham FC could not get another one past Orlando.
“Once we started swinging around a couple passes and connecting two or three in a row changed the game for us,” Parkinson said. “In the first half, we were trying to do things too quickly. So, switching the ball and getting it forward created so much for us. We did a better job and settled in for the second half.”
Kumi Yokoyama had her finest match in her brief tenure with the club, generating a trio of quality attempts and displayed good chemistry with countrymate Nahomi Kawasumi throughout.
Orlando found open space in the 64th minute, forcing goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris to make her biggest save of the night on Kerry Abello. On the restart, McCall Zerboni slipped a lead pass to Onumonu for a breakaway, but goalkeeper Kaylie Collins charged out to break up the shot attempt.
Gotham’s Paige Monaghan sliced an attempt from the left wing that rang off the woodwork in 78th minute. Shhe also connected with substitute Cameron Tucker in the 87th minute as sa try was just off the mark.
The sides will tussle in a rematch for the National Women’s Soccer League opener in Orlando on Sunday, May 1 at 7 p.m. (Paramount+).
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