When Sam Laity became the interim head coach of OL Reign in July, his first match was at Houston Dash, with OL Reign on the losing end, 0-2. Tonight, OL Reign served a Mt. Rainier sized, victorious revenge dish on Houston, scoring five goals. Houston Dash did get a goal courtesy of an appearance from NWSL MVP candidate, Own Goal. However, goals from Bethany Balcer (two of them!), Sofia Huerta, Eugénie Le Sommer, and Jess Fishlock will be the headline in a memorable first half for the NWSL original club.
WHAT WORKED: YOU GET A GOAL. YOU GET A GOAL. YOU GET A GOAL.
OL Reign must have been listening to Oakland rap duo Luniz at pre-game because they really did drop FIVE, not one, not two, not three, not four, but F I V E goals on Houston in the first half. Can you choose which one was your favorite?
There was Bethany Balcer’s looping header in the 6th minute.
Boats and goals, boats and goals #RGNvHOU | https://t.co/iecT7II54a | #NWSL21 pic.twitter.com/EGjFQvLzm8— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) August 8, 2021
Sofia Huerta opened her goal-scoring account in the 19th minute.
That's @schuerta opening her 2021 account #RGNvHOU | https://t.co/iecT7II54a | #NWSL21 pic.twitter.com/aTkX9pi9Rv— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) August 8, 2021
Eugenie Le Sommer, fresh off her brace last weekend, got in on the fun.
Can't stop scoring #RGNvHOU | https://t.co/iecT7II54a | #NWSL21 pic.twitter.com/MDCuP5mFL7— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) August 8, 2021
And then THIS Jess Fishlock fireball, because of course she’s The Dragon, MBE.
TAKE A BOW, @JessFishlock ⚽️ #RGNvHOU | https://t.co/iecT7II54a | #NWSL21 pic.twitter.com/yUj4vZWDtn— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) August 8, 2021
And then in stoppage time of the first half, Balcer claimed her second goal of the night, her second brace this season.
Balcer Brace™️ is becoming a regular thing #RGNvHOU | https://t.co/iecT7II54a | #NWSL21 pic.twitter.com/QxQqFbnKer— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) August 8, 2021
WHAT DIDN’T WORK: OWN GOAL ENTERED THE CHAT AGAIN
The NWSL MVP candidate made an appearance in this match, specifically in the 30th minute. No doubt fans tensed up and probably thought, “Oh no, here we go again.”
Fortunately, that was the only real blip on the evening.
At the risk of sounding greedy, the lack of a sixth goal, perhaps Bethany Balcer’s first professional hat-trick, could have been fun to see in the second half. But still, five goals in the first half is still five goals in the first half.
“You don’t just turn up on a Saturday evening and put in a performance like that.
Being pragmatic about the eyebrow-raising, five-goal first half, Laity praised the full roster as contributors that resulted in such a dominant first half like that. Everyone on the roster, regardless if they’re getting first-team minutes, contributes at training to push everyone so that potentially performances like this can happen. It’s not just as simple as flipping a switch. Five goals in the first half was nice, but there were still moments in the game where Laity reflected on where the team could improve on. He cited a moment shortly after the team had the lead at 2-0, which ultimately resulted in the own goal. However, Laity praised the team’s mentality to not let another own goal linger, rather liking that it “woke them up,” to the tune of putting in three more goals.
Saturday’s win marks the end of Laity’s time as interim head coach, with an overall record of four wins and two losses on the season. At his press conference, he revealed that incoming head coach Laura Harvey was in attendance and will begin her second stint as head coach of the Reign on Monday.
OL Reign’s win on Saturday night puts the club, at the time of publication, fifth in the standings. OL Reign will look to make it four wins in a row, with a trip to the midwest. OL Reign travel to Kansas City to take on Kansas City, Saturday, August 14. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 PM PT and will be broadcast on Paramount+ for US viewers, while international viewers can watch on Twitch.