OL Reign 2
Utah Royals FC 0
October 17, 2020 – NWSL Fall Series (OL Reign Matchday 4)
Tacoma, WA – Cheney Stadium
OL Reign and Utah Royals FC faced off in Tacoma, WA on Saturday evening in the final match of the NWSL Fall Series for both clubs and the league.
Although both sides entered the match in the bottom two places on the table, there was more than merely avoiding the bottom involved Saturday evening. 2020 has been a journey for players, club, and the league as training camps were underway when things shut down. There was uncertainty over the merest possibility of playing matches of any kind this season. The Challenge Cup in Utah was a success. A number of real positives for the league with a new commissioner, expansion, and sponsors make the future seem bright. So, as the two bottom of the table clubs met to conclude the league season, the match represented far more resiliency and success than final placement in the standings.
With groups of fans watching from the hillside overlooking the stadium and in the parking lot, the two sides came out with pace and energy, OLR getting in on goal in the first minute and pressing for the early goal. Utah did get some counters, but also were generally stuck in their own defensive end a good portion of the early going. OLR managed to be dangerous, but the Utah defense was able to hold early. Sofia Huerta’s shot in the 24th minute finally got the match a goal.
The match would go to the interval still at one nil to the home side. Utah challenged Casey Murphy as the half progressed, forcing saves to keep the lead for OL Reign.
A 51st minute goal from outside the box by Leah Pruitt extended the OLR lead. It was Pruitt’s first goal for the club.
Utah pressed quickly for a response. In the 74th minute it appeared maybe they would grab one back before the hydration break. Tziarra King really hit one, but OLR keeper Casey Murphy fully extended to her right to push it wide and keep the two goal margin.
OLR maintained its pressure and energy throughout. Utah had chances, pushed for goals, but Murphy and the Reign defense withstood.
With the result OL Reign finish 7th in the table and Utah Royals FC in 9th.
“The victory is indicative of the work we did this week,” Benstiti said. “Last week, too. We are happy when we work very well. You’re sure it’s a good way (to do things). When you win, you are happy because you feel very professional about the job. The players did it very well. They listened to what we asked them to do, but after that they played very well. It’s not me on the field, it’s the players. I can’t tell them everything. They know what to do and when they do those things efficiently, they just have to play. They played today.”
The off-season begins quickly, an expansion draft is in a few weeks.
RGN – Sofia Huerta (Shirley Cruz) 24’
RGN – Leah Pruitt (Bethany Balcer) 51’
RGN – Kristen McNabb (caution) 45+8’
RGN – Jasmyne Spencer (caution) 90+1’
Lineups & Stats
RGN: GK Casey Murphy, D Madison Hammond, D Kristen McNabb, D Amber Brooks, D Steph Cox, M Dani Weatherholt, M Shirley Cruz (Sam Hiatt 79’), M Rosie White (Morgan Andrews 70’), F Leah Pruitt (Miranda Nild 79’), F Sofia Huerta, F Bethany Balcer (Jasmyne Spencer 86’)
Substitutes Not Used: GK Carly Nelson, D Kimberly Hazlett
Head Coach: Farid Benstiti
Shots on goal: 11
Corner kicks: 8
UTA: GK Abby Smith, D Elizabeth Ball, D Taylor Leach, D Mallory Weber, D Katie Bowen, M Lo’eau LaBonta, M Taylor Lytle, M Aminata Diallo (Gaby Vincent 63’), F Tziarra King (Arielle Ship 76’), F Amy Rodriguez, F Brittany Ratcliffe (Michele Vasconcelos 66’)
Substitutes Not Used: GK Melissa Lowder, D Michelle Maemone, D Madeline Nolf, F Raisa Strom-Okimoto
Head Coach: Amy LePeilBet
Shots on goal: 5
Corner kicks: 2