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OL Reign lose at North Carolina Courage

A flat first half and counterattack goal results in OL Reign’s second loss on the season.

NWSL: OL Reign at North Carolina Courage Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

With a full week of rest, relaxation, and some actual training, OL Reign traveled to Cary, North Carolina, for their first meeting with the North Carolina Courage on the season.

The momentum of the win vs. Houston Dash could not carry over this week at North Carolina, as a flat first half where OL Reign barely had the ball and could not connect on passes made for a day of chasing North Carolina. The lone goal in the match was scored by North Carolina’s Tyler Lussi in the 34th minute.


After missing the last six matches with an ankle injury, Quinn returned to the pitch in the 58th minute, and their stability in the midfield was very much welcomed as it was missed. OL Reign gradually were able to hold the ball much better than in the first half, allowing for more passing and build-up along the left. In summary, it’s always good when Quinn is on the field. They completed 18 passes in 32 minutes, including two long balls, and won all of their tackles and duels.

“It feels good to be back, definitely have struggled with some injuries this season so it’s always nice to be healthy again and to get some minutes on the pitch,” Quinn said after the match about their on-field return.


Be it biological, adopted, or communal sense, shoutout to the moms and mother figures on this day.


It took the perfect pass with perfect timing, but OL Reign’s building and playing through the middle of the field was exploited by Rikke Madsen’s pass to Tyler Lussi.


“OL Reign cannot break the triangles,” as co-commentator Anna Witte said during the first half on the international broadcast, which was what viewers on FOX 13+ had. And she was correct. Be it when they had to ball or were defending OL Reign moving into the attacking half, North Carolina had triangles all over the field. Three Courage players were always within vicinity of each other, making it hard for OL Reign to do what they wanted to do.

As a result, the Courage ended with 61% possession and had 446 completed passes compared to 242 for the Reign.

“We just can’t start games off slow.”

In talking about the first half where OL Reign had 31% of possession, forward Elyse Bennett said North Carolina wasn’t doing anything defensively that they didn’t anticipate, and that OL Reign just came out of the gate slow. “I think that, in this league, it’s hard to come back in games when we don’t start off on the front foot, so I think that just prioritizing coming out and starting from the first minute of the game is something that we need to focus on,” Bennett said.

Bennett additionally said in her postgame, “I think we know that they are a really great passing team and they want to play out of the back and they’re confident on the ball. I think that in the first half, we just came out a little bit slower and they were on the front foot. So, I think in the second half, we just had to pick it up and unfortunately, we weren’t able to find the equalizer, but I think that we’ll learn from this game and we’ll move forward and be better in the next.”

“We knew it was going to be difficult in a 3 PM kickoff on the East.”

As tough as OL Reign’s schedule has been early into this season, it could work out in their favor as after this trip to North Carolina, their next trip to the east coast won’t be until July, just before the World Cup break. While it wasn’t used as an excuse for not having their standard high level of quality on the field today, coast-to-coast trips are tough for any sports team, and OL Reign is not immune to that.

Harvey continued with her opening statement after the match, “I think, when we were smart in how we played, we did some good things. When fatigue sat in and we weren’t as smart, we made it difficult for ourselves. I think we didn’t start on the front foot. It was hard to get into the first half when we weren’t at that. I thought in the second half, we controlled the game more, but we were lacking quality. I felt that, throughout the whole game, we just didn’t have a lot of quality but a lot of it was down to decision-making, I thought. So, obviously disappointed to lose, but I think we’ve been on a really good run. This is a tough place to come. We’ve obviously done a lot of East Coast games in this period, so we’ll be glad to get back to the West and stay there for a little bit.”

The loss keeps OL Reign at second in the standings due to Washington Spirit’s win at Angel City FC on Saturday. Results around the league could see OL Reign slide down to fourth with 12 points. It’s back home at Lumen Field for OL Reign’s next match, as they will host Gotham FC on Sunday, May 21. The match will carry the theme of AANHPI Heritage Celebration in recognition of May being Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Kickoff is scheduled for 3 PM PT. Those in the U.S. can watch the match on Paramount+ while international viewers can watch on

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