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Reign FC vs North Carolina Courage: Highlights, stats and quotes

“Anytime you get three points regardless of who you face is good and then on top of that we faced probably the best team in the league.”

Nikita Taparia

Match data


Reign FC 2 - North Carolina Courage 1

Monday, May 27, 2019

Venue: Cheney Stadium

Referee: Danielle Chesky

Assistants: Maggie Short, Salma Perez

Fourth Official: Mark Allatin

Attendance: 3,032

Weather: 70 degrees and sunny


RFC - Bethany Balcer (Kristen McNabb) 13’

RFC - Shea Groom 86’

NCC - Abby Erceg 89’


RFC - Theresa Nielsen (caution) 30’


Reign FC - Casey Murphy; Theresa Nielsen, Megan Oyster, Lauren Barnes, Kristen McNabb; Jess Fishlock, Morgan Andrews, Beverly Yanez (Maegan Kelly 89’); Darian Jenkins (Ifeoma Onumonu 77’), Bethany Balcer, Shea Groom

Substitutes not used: Scout Watson, Jaycie Johnson, Morgan Proffitt, Christen Westphal, Kiersten Dallstream

Total shots: 15 (Fishlock/Groom, 4)

Shots on goal: 6 (Balcer/Fishlock, 2)

Fouls: 12 (Jenkins, 3)

Offside: 5 (Balcer/Fishlock, 2)

Corner kicks: 3

Saves: 4 (Murphy, 4)

North Carolina Courage - Katelyn Rowland; Jalene Hinkle, Abby Erceg, Kaleigh Kurtz, Merritt Mathias; McCall Zerboni, Cari Roccaro (Elizabeth Eddy 61’); Denise O’Sullivan, Kristen Hamilton (Heather O’Reilly 70’); Lynn Williams, Leah Pruitt (Julia Spetsmark 83’)

Substitutes not used: Samantha Leshnak, Ally Haran, Ryan Williams, Meredith Speck

Total shots: 13 (Pruitt, 4)

Shots on goal: 5 (Pruitt, 3)

Fouls: 9 (O’Sullivan, 3)

Offside: 4 (Williams, 3)

Corner-kicks: 9

Saves: 4 (Rowland, 4)

Post-match quotes

Reign FC head coach Vlatko Andonovski

His thoughts on the game

I was very happy about the outcome of the game. Anytime you get three points regardless of who you face is good and then on top of that we faced probably the best team in the league. Even though they are missing so many players they are still the best or one of the best and I’m just happy we were able to get a positive result.

On Jess Fishlock playing 90 minutes in her first match back from loan

When you have the luxury to have a player like Jess Fishlock on the team, I don’t think you want to take her off. I would probably keep Jess on the field with one leg if I had to. You saw what she can do there. You saw her confidence. With this young team that is something we were missing and her understanding of the game and popping in the pockets created more attack and greater opportunities.

On the significance of getting three points

You know they are extremely important because it’s almost like it’s a new season, almost like the season starts for every team. But for us one thing I want to mention is that this is the team that actually played the previous five games with the exception of Jess not being here so even though we lost the national team players we actually didn’t lose any player that played for us. (Stephanie) Catley maybe played 45 minutes but you look at the other players: Rumi (Utsugi) barely played, (Megan Rapinoe) didn’t play, Lydia (Williams) didn’t play as much as Michelle (Betos). For us it’s almost like we just continued building from where we stopped. There was not too big of turmoil in terms of personnel change in fact I think maybe we even got slightly better because of Jess’s arrival.

Reign FC midfielder Jess Fishlock

On rejoining the club

I, of course, come back to a game against North Carolina. It’s great to come back to my home. It’s great to come back and be with my girls. The main thing is that we got a win today which is brilliant.

Overall thoughts of the team’s performance

I thought the first 45 minutes were great. I think we can be so happy about the way that we played. Obviously there were a few things the first ten minutes we needed to figure out and I felt we did that which is great but i felt we should have been up two or three goals in the first 45 minutes. To say that against North Carolina is pretty good. And the second half, they just kept on hitting and launching that ball forward, but our defense dealt with that and I think we were just really smart in the way we played and got the second goal and saw the game out. I think we can be really proud especially in our first half and in the second half too but in different ways.

On playing with new faces

Yeah absolutely, look I mean I’ve been with the girls for like 36 hours so I have in front of me a new front three. There’s Bethany (Balcer), Darian (Jenkins), and Shea (Groom) and that’s none of anybody I played with last season at all. We come in and we have a connection right away, just off the cuff. The first half showed that, so just imagine what we can get up to with a couple training sessions together, some video work and working together on and off the field. That’s something to be super excited about. I’ve watched a few of our games and I felt that, I don’t know why, but I felt that the three of them were a little bit more confident and a little bit more free and a little bit more assertive in their decision making. They were a little bit more dangerous today. It’s great to see that and it’s great to work with that. I’m excited to work with that front three and whoever else is there but definitely I think that the four of us can cause some trouble in this world cup break.

Reign FC forward Bethany Balcer

On her goal

We’ve been working all week on getting in on crosses. One of my assistant coaches has been encouraging me and saying that I find the ball well. At center forward, they wanted me to get in position to find the ball. I think I’m pretty good at anticipating and I knew where (Kristen McNabb was going to play it). I just headed it in.

On pressing North Carolina

Vlatko told us that lots of teams are afraid to play North Carolina. He told us not to be; that we had to put them on their heels. We had to shift our defense a bit to match their 4-4-2, but we were able to put them under pressure. We’re not going to change. That’s how we’re going to play them.

On playing as a center forward

I was really excited. I have played center mid or center forward up to this point in my career. I like having my back to goal. I like to turn people and I feel like have better angles to get off crosses. I’m just embracing it and enjoying my time on the field.

Reign FC goalkeeper Casey Murphy

On making her first start against North Carolina

North Carolina came out strong. We knew they were going to be a solid opponent. It was on us to stay organized and compact in the back. That was the biggest thing. Being new on the team, I knew the way we were going to be successful was if we just talked and got on the same page. We were able to do that very well today.

On how Michelle Betos helped her prepare

Betos was unreal. Her support, her feedback. She was a player that I could go to even though I just met her a couple weeks ago and ask her questions. Even during the match, she was up top (in the stands) giving me feedback to help get us through and get us the win.

On adjusting to the new surroundings

I’m coming off playing abroad in France. Getting back to U.S. soil and playing, it’s made the transition a bit easier because I’m familiar with the language and the little things. Moving out here to the west coast, even though I’ve only been here a few weeks, the transition has been so much smoother because of what I’ve experience the last two years playing abroad.

North Carolina head coach Paul Riley

His thoughts on the match

In bits and pieces, we were good in the game. The second half we started to get into the game, but I thought the first half we were all over the place, turning the ball over in poor areas. A little bit unlike us, in the midfield. Never really got into a good rhythm in the midfield. It was a tighter midfield than we were used to, but we never really got going. There were sporadic times when we were good, but it wasn’t really typical of us at all. The last 15 minutes, when we were playing with desperation we probably created more chances than we created the rest of the match. Credit to them, they had a good game plan. They suffocated us a little bit and stopped us from playing out. They backed off us a little bit in the second half, which allowed us to get a grip on the game. Vlatko’s a really good coach. A good game plan and a good team, too. They had some smashers up there that caused us some problem’s and Fishlock is always a pain in the you-know-what as well. She’s always floating around the field. You can’t get a grip on her. She got in great areas underneath the back line and caused us some trouble. She makes a big different for them, there’s no question.

His thoughts on Cheney Stadium compared to Memorial Stadium

I would much rather play here. The locker rooms are much better. I just like the atmosphere better, to be honest with you. I don’t know what it’s like for the fans, but seeing the game and watching in a baseball field is pretty tricky. The grass is good. They’ve done a good job. I thought the field was really good. We thought it would be a lot worse, having seen it on the tv, but I don’t think it played into the game at all. It’s smaller than we’re used to, but we’ve been on a lot smaller baseball fields. We played Seattle a couple years ago (as the Western New York Flash). Do you remember that? The postage stamp? It was fine. It’s a good place. It’s definitely better than what they left, no question.

On Katelyn Rowland’s recent form

I think she’s going through a tough stretch. She was the first to put her hand up after the game. Two basic errors for a goalkeeper. One thing about Katelyn is her decision-making is really good. She’s not the best shot-blocker in the league, but she’s a great decision maker. She’s got great feet. She’s great in the air on set pieces. The decision making and the aerial thing didn’t really go well tonight, but I believe in Katelyn. She’s been great the last couple years. Listen, we’ve all had games. I used to play and had a lot of bad games. I’ve had many bad games as a coach, too. Today being one of them. We’ll have to get over it. She’ll have to get over it and move on. I think the one thing I don’t want is her feeling sorry for herself. That’s the most important thing, is for her to put it in the rearview mirror. She’s a class goalkeeper, one of the best in the league for me. I would never get my kids to be goalkeeper in a million years. She’ll be fine.

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