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Utah Royals FC captures 3rd straight win by blanking Orlando Pride

Utah Royals FC forward Christen Press (23) celebrates after scoring a goal as the Salt Lake Royals and Sky Blue FC play at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019.
FILE: Utah Royals FC forward Christen Press (23) celebrates after scoring a goal as the Salt Lake Royals and Sky Blue FC play at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Royals FC didn’t have a problem getting shots on goal in the first half Saturday night against Orlando — the Royals had five shots on frame to just one for the Pride in the opening half.

The problem was getting a goal in the back of the net, as Orlando goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris kept URFC off the board in the first 45 minutes with five first-half saves.

Christen Press finally broke through for the visitors in the 60th minute, though, scoring the game’s first goal on her third shot on goal of the night. Amy Rodriguez later added her eighth goal of the year as the Royals beat the Pride 2-0 at Exploria Stadium in Orlando.

It’s the third straight victory for URFC (8-6-3), which jumped past Reign FC for fourth place in the National Women’s Soccer League standings with 27 points. Reign FC (26 points) plays Sunday at Sky Blue FC.

Utah swept the season series with Orlando, also winning 2-0 in Utah back in May and 1-0 in Orlando in April.

Press paced the Royals’ offense, as she had a pair of shots on goal in the first half. The forward finally got URFC — which has scored eight goals during its three-game win streak — on the board when Lo’eau LaBonta lofted a beautiful pass over the defense to a charging Press, who then put the right-footed shot into the back of the net from short range in the 60th minute for her sixth goal of the year.

Orlando countered minutes later when U.S. Women’s National Team star Alex Morgan subbed into the game in the 68th minute. It was Morgan’s first appearance for the Pride since late April, and she finished with one shot as Orlando had one shot on goal all game.

Rodriguez doubled URFC’s lead in the 77th minute, taking a pass from Vero Boquete and chipping a shot over Harris, who got a hand on the ball but couldn’t prevent the goal. Rodriguez’s eight goals this season are tied for second in the NWSL.

URFC kept Harris busy all night. The Orlando keeper finished with six saves on 15 Royals shots, including nine on goal.