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OL Reign fall to Washington Spirit, 0-2 in regular season home finale

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A possible top-2 finish will have to wait until the final week of the season.

MikeRussellFoto / Sounder at Heart

With the playoffs right around the corner, OL Reign took a step back on momentum heading into the postseason as they suffered a two-goal loss to the Washington Spirit in their regular season home finale on Saturday night.

Washington’s goals came in the 22nd minute by Taylor Aylmer and the 59th minute by Ashley Hatch. Hatch’s goal put her in the lead of the league’s Golden Boot race, one above OL Reign’s Bethany Balcer.


WHAT WORKED: JESS FISHLOCK PREVENTED A THIRD GOAL

OL Reign fans might already be used to The Dragon, MBE being a superhuman, but she once again finds new ways to amaze us. Washington should have claimed a third goal, but from out of nowhere, Fishlock made an incredible stop after goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi had come out to thwart an earlier attempt.


WHAT DIDN’T WORK: EVERYTHING ELSE

A three-match week shouldn’t happen, but obviously circumstances beyond their control forced a Wednesday trip down to Portland to face their rivals. The result was something not fun to watch in an OL Reign side unable to connect on their passes and lacking quality on shots to really test Washington’s Aubrey Bledsoe. Though there were flashes of the Reign building encouraging attacks and they had some decent chances on Washington’s goal, the Spirit were the better side overall.

It’s true both teams entered Saturday having playing multiple matches over the week, and yes every player in the league has been playing with emotional burden of the past couple weeks, but on this night, Washington Spirit were able to capitalize as well as induce errors for OL Reign to commit.

What this highlight does not mercifully show is that ahead of her goal Hatch was gifted the ball from a quick restart attempt by Megan Rapinoe, leading to Rapinoe’s reaction in the lead photo of this recap.


After the match, OL Reign head coach Laura Harvey offered no excuses for the team’s bad outing on Saturday night, but noted that the three matches in a week might have shown some reality that for all of the improvement the team has done to climb up the standings, it has just painted a bigger target on them.

“I think in the last three games you’ve seen that teams have really come out at really early in the game, and in some ways the Orlando game was a false sense of security for us, I think, and since then we’ve been on the back foot a lot early in games and that’s something that we’ve got a solve moving forward if we want to have any success in the in the postseason.”

And no doubt in anyone’s mind who has been following the NWSL all season long, that events off the field, forcing a postponement in matches and then just as quickly resuming them with such packed schedules, has taken its toll on everyone. Harvey again:

“This has been a really difficult two weeks for everybody, having three games in a week is physically demanding, but there’s been a lot of emotional tiredness to to everybody. I think the most important thing for us now, as a group and as individuals, is that we take a minute to just reflect on everything that’s gone on over the last couple of weeks on and off the field and then regroup again and get back to training and working hard to put things right on the field, so that we can set ourselves up well for for Kansas, and obviously the postseason.”


Despite the loss, OL Reign remain in second place in the league standings. Washington Spirit are one big step closer to clinching a spot in the NWSL Playoffs, but other results around the league will need to go their favor. Entering Saturday’s match, these were the scenarios that the league posted.

Obviously OL Reign did not clinch a semifinal spot with the loss, but they still control their destiny and can secure at least a top-2 finish. How? The simplest way is to win their final match at Kansas City and it’s theirs.

That match to close out the regular season takes place on Saturday, October 30 at Legends Field with a 5 PM PT kickoff. The match can be watched on Paramount+ for US viewers, while international viewers can watch on Twitch.