[JL is still having technical issues with WordPress, so I’m posting his copy for him. – VT]
OL Reign 1
San Diego Wave FC 0
April 15, 2023
Lumen Field – Seattle, WA
NWSL Regular Season
The OL Reign hosted the San Diego Wave FC in Seattle at Lumen Field on Staurday night. Match day three of the NWSL Regular season was the home opener for the Reign coming off the recent international break.
Both sides went into the break on a winning note, with the Reign bouncing back from an opening loss and San Diego taking the full six points from the opening two matches while averaging three goals per match.
The Seattle side came into the match with a new distraction. Earlier in the week it became known that the OL Groupe was actively in a process to sell the club. Details are slim at this stage, but it appears that changes are again on the horizon for a club in its eleventh season, third brand identity, and fourth stadium home.
Additionally, with the next international window being when players are released for World Cup duty, NWSL sides now have a couple months and a dozen or more league and Challenge Cup matches wihtout interuption.
In an odd scheduling quirk, despite having played both league and Challenge Cup matches last season, the two sides had not faced each other in almost a year. The Wave are no longer the expansion side trying to get off to a good start and Seattle is playing its first home match coming off a NWSL Shield winning season.
The match began with a rapid pace of play. OL Reign pressed hard in the first minutes, Emily Sonnett getting forward in the first minute and the home side keeping San Diego mostly in their own defensive third a good chunk of the first half.The Reign created a number of good early opportunities, but were unable to break through the Wave defense to get the early goal. As the first half moved along, the Wave began to find their spots, getting Alex Morgan forward with some through balls and putting pressure on the Reign in transition.San Diego’s defense managed to hold their shape against the quick combination play and high press Seattle likes to play. Moving into the later stages of the first half the Wave got forward creating dangerous situations, but neither side was breaking through on the scoreboard. The Wave were rewarded with their pressure with their first corners, pushing the Reign back into their own defensive third for the first lengthy stretches.The match would go into the interval level and goalless.
Where the home Reign had pushed forward in the first minute on the kickoff, the Wave followed suit pushing forward and getting the Reign on their heels to open the second half.The Wave nearly opened the scoring in those first few mintues, but Phallon Tullis-Joyce was up to the task on back to back shots by Alex Morgan and Amirah Ali. It was clear San Diego had come out of the interval with their foot on the gas.As the middle of the half approached and the match remained scoreless, both sides began to vary their offensive approach. The Wave began to add numbers to their attacks. The Reign began to work the ball more wide, creating more crosses and diagonal runs.
The first group of substitutions came along in the 64th as coaches Laura Harvbey and Casey Stoney began to tinker with frest legs and line up changes.Megan Rapinoe entered the match in the 72nd minute, and her impact was nearly instant. Jess Fishlock fopund Rapinoe on the left flank, a few touches later she launched a shot from the top of the box. Wave keeper Kailen Sheridan was up to the task, snatching the ball out of the air diving to her left. Moments later Sheridan was again tested as Rapinoe and Bethany Balcer nearly connected on a through ball across the goal.
As regulation wound down to ten minutes, San Diego’s excellent counter once again put the Reign defense on their heels. Once again, the goalkeepers were up to the task at each end.
The final minutes and stoppage were end to end with neither side playing for the draw.
The winner did come in the fifth minute of stoppage. Olivia Van der Jagt scored on a shot through traffic that got past Sheridan to her right. Moments later, the 1-0 scoreline would hold.
A terrific end for the Reign, grabbing the full three points. A brutal end for the Wave, that had looked like they would grab a deserved road point.
RGN: Van der Jagt – 90+5’
SD: Hill (Caution – 90+4’)
RGN: GK Tullis-Joyce, D Barnes, D Hiatt, D Cook, D Huerta, D Sonnett (Quinn 79’), M Fishlock, M Van der Jagt, F King (Rapinoe 73’), F Balcer, F Huitema (Bennett 87’)
Unused substitutes: GK Ivory, M Stanton, M Athens, D Brown, F Latsko, D Holmes
Total Shots: 16 (Fishlock – 5)
Shots on Goal: 5 (Rapinoe – 2)
Fouls: 12 (Four tied with– 2)
Corner Kicks: 4
SD: GK Sheridan, D McNabb, D Girma, D Riehl, D Westphal, M Kornieck (Jakobsson 79’), M Colaprico (Briede 64’), F Shaw (Hill 87’), F Doniak, F Morgan, F Ali (Turnbow 64’)
Unused substitutes: M Enge, D Pogarch, D Gyau, GK Brzykcy
Total Shots: 10 (Morgan – 3)
Shots on Goal: 3 (Morgan – 2)
Fouls: 10 (Doniak – 3)
Corner Kicks: 3
Saves: 4 (Sheridan – 4)
Referee: Tori Penso
Assistant Referee 1: Brooke Mayo
Assistant Referee 2: Katarzyna Wasiak
4th Official: Corbyn May
Var: Christopher Spivey
Avar: Tyler Wyrostek