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OL Reign lose to Washington Spirit, 0-1

Short-rested Spirit spoil Rose Lavelle’s OL Reign debut

Nikita Taparia

OL Reign were back in the comforts of home on Sunday as they played host to Washington Spirit. The visitors came into the match having played midweek, defeating Houston Dash 2-1.

Sunday’s match marked the OL Reign debut of US international Rose Lavelle, who got the start for Farid’s Benstit’s side. Unfortunately the hype going into the night was not met with a result in OL Reign’s favor as they fell to Spirit, 0-1 on a Megan Rapinoe own goal.


It might still feel like a dream to a lot of fans, but Rose Lavelle really is an OL Reign player and she got the start and went 64 minutes in her debut. Lavelle came out the gate determined to make an impact in her first match, being at times throughout the first half the conductor in their attack. The moment almost came in the 17th minute where Lavelle dribbled the ball nearly 50 yards down the field, passing to forward Tziarra King and the ball found the back of the net; however, King was ruled offside. In their respective post-match press conferences, Megan Rapinoe, captain Lauren Barnes, and head coach Farid Benstiti all spoke positively of Lavelle’s debut, noting that she only had three training sessions with the team under her belt, and that we’ve yet seen what impact she can make on the field with the team once she’s reached full squad integration.


As exciting as it was to finally see Lavelle in an OL Reign shirt, all of the possession and almost chances for the Reign in the first half, it still didn’t result in goals. The sting of the loss coming on Washington’s few chances and one of those chances being an own goal isn’t fun. And thinking back to Reign’s scoreless draw vs. North Carolina to kick off the season, the chance creation in the first half was good. Not finishing any of them is why they lost tonight. OL Reign are very much a team still figuring each other out, but the expectation to punish opponents with multiple goals from multiple chances is what they’re striving for with the amount of talent they have right now and who will be joining the club in a few weeks.

Rapinoe and Barnes talked about the standard they’re trying to establish with the club and under Benstiti’s vision and as much as that standard is still being developed, collectively the team just did not play up to it tonight and to no surprise, it was a frustrating night for OL Reign.

The loss was obviously bad for OL Reign, but made worse by the injury to goalkeeper Karen Bardsley. After a drop kick in the 83rd minute, Bardsley immediately went down and had to be assisted off the field. She was replaced by goalkeeper Ella Dederick for the game’s final few minutes. While Benstiti didn’t have much of an update in his post-match comments, he did suggest Bardsley’s injury might be to her hamstring. Bardsley was seen after the match on crutches with wrapping around her left thigh, but fans will have to wait for an update from the club on the severity of her injury, especially when you consider her selection to Team Great Britain for the Olympics just a few days ago.

Here’s hoping it’s not a too serious injury and wishing Karen a speedy & full recovery.

“If you don’t show up, you get beat.” - Megan Rapinoe

In their post-match press conferences, both Rapinoe and Barnes both talked about not being good enough tonight. With Washington coming in on short rest after their midweek match at Houston, both Reign Originals emphasized that the team as a whole should have been able to control the game in all facets and brushed up any notion it was just an off night. “I don’t want to chalk it up as just one of those nights for us. We don’t get those nights yet. We’re not a good enough team to be able to leave to the soccer gods. We have to be able to make ourselves play better. We have to understand the game better as a team and individually that every day we come out and we’re holding at least a very certain level and can’t drop below that,” said Rapinoe.

OL Reign hits the road for their next match, as they travel across the country to face Gotham FC on Saturday, June 5. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 PM PT and will be broadcast on Paramount+ for US viewers, while international viewers can catch the broadcast on twitch.

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