With five matches to go, Reign FC embarked on their second-to-last regular season road trip, with a visit to Audi Field, home of the MLS side DC United, to take on the Washington Spirit.
17,418 were in attendance and they got quite the show with end-to-end action and four goals as Reign FC and the Spirit played to a 2-2 draw.
Right from kickoff, Vlatko Andonovski’s squad looked to replicate the lightning strike that saw them claiming two goals within 12 minutes last weekend against Orlando Pride. Taking into consideration that this was Spirit’s first match in three weeks (a match at Orlando Pride was rescheduled due to Hurricane Dorian) and through the opening 20 minutes, the Reign were knocking very loudly on Washington’s door.
However, after a promising cross from forward Bethany Balcer — intended for forward Jodie Taylor — was smothered by Washington’s goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe, it was the Spirit that struck first on the scoreboard.
Coming off the Bledsoe play, forward Mallory Pugh sent in a cross to forward Ashley Hatch who headed in surely a Goal of the Week nominee, if not clear-cut winner. Hatch’s body was drifting away from Reign FC’s goal, but she had enough strength on her head and neck to flick it past Casey Murphy to strike first in the 35th minute.
Spirit with the perfect response from a Bethany Balcer led-attack. Mallory Pugh sends in a cross into the box and Ashley Hatch is there with a highlight reel header to open up the scoring. 0-1, Washington Spirit. #WASvRFC pic.twitter.com/bwKJYMPfsP— Ride of the Valkyries (@rovalks) September 15, 2019
Reign FC would get their response five minutes later, courtesy of Balcer. Midfielder Rosie White’s initial corner was punched out by Bledsoe, but it landed in a prime spot for the Reign rookie to collect and loop back around to draw some Spirit defenders and clear the lanes for her to fire past Bledsoe and claim her fourth goal on the season.
The initial Reign corner by Rosie White was punched out by Aubrey Bledsoe, and Bethany Balcer makes the most of the second chance opportunity to claim her fourth goal on the season. We are all equal now. #WASvRFC pic.twitter.com/4MKgyztkbb— Ride of the Valkyries (@rovalks) September 15, 2019
In the second half, the end-to-end action went to eleven. Reign continued with their early and often pressure in an attempt to get their second goal. This was sparked by forward Megan Rapinoe making her second appearance on the season as a halftime sub. Going the full second half saw Rapinoe more involved and being every bit of the threat the World Cup Golden Boot winner can be. Perhaps her biggest involvement came at a moment that was debated as to whether Reign FC should have been awarded a penalty.
Penalty? No PK? #WASvRFC pic.twitter.com/AiY5IqaPRc— Susie Rantz ️ (@SusieRants) September 15, 2019
Rapinoe collected a rebound from her shot and it appeared that the trailing leg of Washington’s Meggie Dougherty Howard caught Rapinoe and caused her to go down in the box. However, no foul was called.
Washington Spirit thought they had the match-winning goal in the 90th minute when midfielder Chloe Logarzo collected a pass from Hatch, picked her spot and went upper right to beat Murphy for the 2-1 lead.
LOGARZO! @CLogarzo puts the Spirit ahead as we head into 7️⃣ minutes of stoppage!— NWSL (@NWSL) September 15, 2019
2-1 | #WASvSEA pic.twitter.com/hQ6kbsVe8s
However, with seven minutes of stoppage time, Reign FC got the final word to salvage a very important point on the road, courtesy of forward Ifeoma Onumonu.
...and @ify_on22 answers RIGHT BACK for @ReignFC!— NWSL (@NWSL) September 15, 2019
2-2 | #WASvSEA pic.twitter.com/Rp35xcJx91
The result puts Reign FC level on points with Utah Royals FC at 31 on the season. And guess who Reign FC have next up on their schedule? That’s right, Utah Royals FC.
The turnaround for their next match will be short as the third and final regular season meeting with Utah is on Wednesday night at Cheney Stadium. The match is virtually a playoff match between the two sides as it’s likely if there is an outright winner, they will strengthen their position to remain in the top four and qualify for the NWSL Playoffs.
Buckle up, Reign FC fans. Four matches left to go and simply put, it’s win or go home.