OL Reign resumed their NWSL Challenge Cup campaign on Thursday night at Lumen Field, hosting the other new expansion team, San Diego Wave FC. The first-ever meeting between the two clubs was already notable, but OL Reign went ahead and made history 11 minutes into the match en route to a 3-1 victory over the Wave.
Nikki Stanton, Bethany Balcer, and Sam Hiatt scored for OL Reign, while Alex Morgan claimed San Diego’s goal.
WHAT WORKED: GOALS, AND LOTS OF THEM
If you were late getting to your seat at Lumen Field or firing up the broadcast, you’d be forgiven in saying, “Wait, what?!?” when 11 minutes into the match, OL Reign were already on a three-goal lead. In fact, the goals from Stanton (2nd minute), Balcer (8th minute), and Hiatt (11th minute) made some NWSL history.
11 - @OLReign's three goals in the first 11 minutes is the fastest from kickoff any team has scored 3 goals in a match in @NWSL history (all competitions). Pour. pic.twitter.com/uO1K0wIaYg— OptaJack⚽️ (@OptaJack) April 15, 2022
WHAT DIDN’T WORK: TZIARRA KING’S SHORT NIGHT
Tziarra King got the start, but unfortunately her night came to an abrupt end after hard challenge in the 20th minute, as she had to be replaced by Sofia Huerta. Head coach Laura Harvey did not have an update after the match about her injury, so it’s most likely the next update will come with the availability report ahead of Sunday’s game.
“I had to get a lot of tickets.”
Midfielder Olivia Van der Jagt made her professional debut tonight with a start and went the full 90 minutes. As one of three players on the squad born and raised in Washington state, Van der Jagt understandably had a lot of requests for tickets from family and friends who couldn’t miss her debut.
The win keeps OL Reign at the to of the West division standings, but it’s a quick turnaround for their next match. OL Reign remain at Lumen Field to close out their home schedule for the NWSL Challenge Cup group stage, hosting the other expansion team, Angel City FC. Kickoff is scheduled for Sunday, April 17 at 3 PM PT. The match will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network in the US, while international viewers can watch on streaming platform Twitch.