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Alanna Kennedy’s strike challenges Christine Nairn for Orlando Pride’s best goal of season

Orlando Pride midfielder Alanna Kennedy’s sensational goal from near the halfway line was the second jaw-dropping goal from distance the Pride have scored this season.

So, naturally, comparisons are being drawn.

Kennedy’s was the lone goal in a 1-0 victory for the Pride over the Washington Spirit. With Spirit goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe off her line, Kennedy intercepted a pass and chipped a shot that went just over the outstretched arms of the former Pride goalkeeper.

The Pride’s other golazo from distance this season was scored by Christine Nairn in Orlando’s 2-1 victory over the Portland Thorns. Nairn took a touch off her chest and fired a shot that dropped at the last possible moment.

Both goals were featured on ESPN’s SportsCenter. 

Kennedy immediately got out of the way of the debate after training on Monday. She said the shot was something she’d pulled off in training just once and she’d never attempted it in a game.

“I can’t hear you, sorry,” she said with a laugh when asked if her goal was better than Nairn’s.

“I think about five minutes earlier in the game, one of our players picked up the ball in a similar position and I saw where the keeper was at and I did scream, ‘Shoot!’ When I picked the ball up there, I kind of had that in the back of my mind already and I thought I’d give it a crack.

“I had to rush it a little bit. I was like, hopefully it can get there with the pace it had on it. It obviously just made it over [Bledsoe] and she came up to me at halftime and said, ‘Did you have to do that?’ I said, ‘I’m sorry. I’m probably not going to do it again.’”

Pride coach Tom Sermanni had a difficult time choosing between the two.

“That’s a good question,” Sermanni said. “It’s difficult. It’d probably say – without wishing to upset Christine – I think probably Alanna’s was that little bit more special. That distance. The trajectory. The fact that the ball was barely out of her feet. The vision to do it. I think it was one of those rare and very special moments.

“Christine’s was a terrific goal, but the ball bounced in an area where, as a player, you’re thinking, ‘Fine. I’m going to have a shot here.’ Alanna’s just took everybody by surprise.”

Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris said both goals were incredible, “but Alanna’s was on a rope.”

“That thing didn’t sail over 10 yards,” Harris said. “Just about as clean as you can hit a ball. Both impressive, to say the least, but [Kennedy’s] technique. … I’ve got to give it to her. That was pretty unbelievable.”

Harris also had some words for the Spirit’s giveaway in the middle third, which led to Kennedy’s goal.

“If I was the goalkeeper, I’d be really angry at my midfielder who played a square ball in the middle of the pitch and gave it away,” she said. “I lot of people always point, ‘Oh it’s the goalkeeper’s fault, it’s the goalkeeper’s fault.’ When you play a square ball in the middle of the pitch, those things are going to happen.

“Great for us. Unfortunate for them, but it is a learning lesson. You’ve got to know who you’re up against. Every time we’re playing against Carli Lloyd, she gets the ball and she starts breaking in the midfield, I don’t even look at the field. I’m turning around and I’m just sprinting because I know what she’s capable of doing and I don’t want it to happen to me.”

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