After one of the more perplexing, yet disappointing losses, OL Reign corrected themselves and grabbed a crucial 3 points with a 2-0 win on the road in Orlando, their first-ever victory in Florida. Jessica Fishlock and Tziarra King scored the goals for OL Reign, while it was a team effort in holding Orlando scoreless for only the second time in their season.
WHAT WORKED: THE COUNTER ATTACK AND FORCING TURNOVERS
Coming off of a loss to Chicago where OL Reign conceded three goals, two of which were own goals, the plan was to turn in a complete performance. The team came out strong, with Dani Weatherholt playing the defensive mid position. This allowed Jessica Fishlock to play higher up and join in attack. This, along with Tziarra King wide left and pulling the Orlando defense out wide, led to a very good first goal. It was King’s defensive work that kept the play alive and led to a beautiful turn and finish by Fishlock. This continued for much of the first half, with the team creating multiple chances and putting six shots on target. The biggest threats of the match came from the left side, where Dzsenifer Marozsan found space and often got the ball up quickly to King or Fishlock, who then made runs or passed it off to Eugenie Le Sommer, who played the #9 today, but often found space drifting slightly left toward the attacking side. Sofia Huerta had good touches when the ball swung to the right, but was unlucky in finishing.
Pure class from @JessFishlock #ORLvRGN | https://t.co/iecT7II54a | #NWSL21 pic.twitter.com/48hMvTismF— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) July 24, 2021
WHAT WORKED: PRESSING
Once again, pressing and team defense lead to a goal for OL Reign. The pressure from the forwards created the turnover, and a wonderful back heel by Le Sommer led to an emphatic finish from Tziarra King for her first regular-season goal for OL Reign. Le Sommer had a productive game where she remained an offensive threat during her entire time on the pitch. She drew the penalty on Amy Turner, and missed a few golden opportunities. Overall, she created for herself and her teammates, with her best moment coming on the assist. Interim head coach Sam Laity said he feels like she is very close to scoring. “I think she just needs to score one, and then she’ll get going,” he said about Le Sommer’s performance. It truly may be a matter of seeing one go in for the world class striker to get back into goal scoring form.
Crown @tziarra for this finish #ORLvRGN | https://t.co/iecT7II54a | #NWSL21 pic.twitter.com/SrXCEqN2zV— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) July 25, 2021
WHAT WORKED: A YOUNG BACK LINE GROWING UP BEFORE OUR EYES
The back line was very young today, with the exception of captain Lauren Barnes playing the left back position. They put in a very solid performance, with the partnership of Sam Hiatt and Alana Cook proving to be formidable and steady. Despite some missed passes, the ability to shut down players and cut off passing lanes while getting the ball safely to Sarah Bouhaddi felt very fluid and calm from the two young center backs. They are showing the makings of a wonderful center back partnership, which should only grow stronger as the season progresses. Madison Hammond started at right back today and was great at clearing balls in the box and making several key tackles. Her pace was good as she tracked down Sydney Leroux with the help of Cook, and she generally shut down the right side well. She even joined in attack a few times, though she was mostly an outlet and connector.
Tonight, OL Reign’s young defenders did their job resulting in a not so adventurous night for Sarah Bouhaddi as she continues to experience the NWSL. Yes there was the Leroux goal negated by very dubious offside call, and most likely ten out of ten times, Courtney Peterson isn’t missing on a virtually open-net, but for once some wonky things in soccer helped out OL Reign tonight.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK: FISHLOCK’S PENALTY TAKE
OL Reign was awarded a penalty kick off of a slightly controversial call on Amy Turner, who got the ball and Le Sommer as the latter attempted a shot on goal. Jessica Fishlock stepped up to take the penalty kick against Ashlyn Harris, who has stopped four previous penalties this season. She stopped another one, as Fishlock’s kick across her body was saved by a diving Harris. Fishlock tweeted after the match acknowledging her penalty take could have been better, but still spirits were very high after a much needed win.
Great Win.— Jessica Fishlock MBE (@JessFishlock) July 25, 2021
( SHIT PK - my bad )
But wow … been on the road for 10 days … couldn’t train for 2 of them due to outside forces ( storms )
What a mentality from this group.
WE GO AGAIN !!!!!! #LetItReign
“WE PUT THAT SHIT TOGETHER FOR 90 MINUTES & GOT THE DUB”
“Being up 1-0 [last match] and letting it slip away from us, the halftime talk and the energy we brought with us to the second half, there was no way we were going to let that happen again. So, we put that shit together for 90 minutes and got the dub.” — Tziarra King about the team pressing and defensive effort
“It’s about mentality...this team is hungry, always have been, but we haven’t been meeting expectations and our full potential. As athletes, it’s our number one frustration and we’re taking it out on teams.” — Lauren Barnes about the 90 minute effort from the young defense
The win gives OL Reign 13 points on the season. Pending on Sunday’s Racing Louisville vs. Washington Spirit match, OL Reign could move up the table, into 8th place. OL Reign return to Cheney Stadium for their next match, hosting Racing Louisville FC. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 PM PT on Saturday, July 31, with the broadcast on Twitch.