After a snakebit loss last weekend at the Chicago Red Stars, OL Reign were back on the road, staying in the west coast for a trip to Torero Stadium to face San Diego Wave FC. The two sides met two weeks ago at Lumen Field, which you may remember was a banner day in OL Reign’s history with Jess Fishlock’s milestone 150th appearance, the announcement of Kim Little’s return, and a Sofia Huerta / Rose Lavelle collaboration for the match-winning goal.
This time, after a rough opening 15 minutes in which San Diego’s Alex Morgan struck first, OL Reign were able to settle into the game and grab an equalizer courtesy of Jess Fishlock. While the final result was a 1-1 draw, it was encouraging for OL Reign to get back into the groove of creating chances and restoring some of their aggression, but the final bit of quality to get a follow-up goal(s) is still eluding them.
WHAT WORKED: JESS FISHLOCK AND THE $50 EQUALIZER
Before the match, Fishlock posted a breakdown of her Playing For Pride donation scenarios through the month of June.
2/2— Jessica Fishlock MBE (@JessFishlock) June 12, 2022
Through June ..
I’ll be donating :
$50 for every appearance
$50 for every goal ( Team OL )
$ 100 for every Win from OL Reign.
Join me in @playingforpride with @adidas & @AthleteAlly ..
Check out the link below to learn more & how to join https://t.co/G6BOIHzV64
Already down a goal after Morgan scored in the 8th minute, Fishlock took it upon herself to equalize in the 38th minute. While Fishlock claimed the goal, the passing sequence by the whole-team was a thing of beauty, highlighting OL Reign’s talent. Welcome back Fishlock after missing last weekend’s game.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK: DEATH BY THE LONG BALL
It was a rough opening 15 minutes for OL Reign as they looked unprepared and rattled by San Diego’s long ball over the top that set up Alex Morgan’s goal in the 8th minute. Three minutes later, Sofia Jakobsson almost doubled their lead after receiving another long ball over the top. While OL Reign’s goal to equalize was a display of their team play at its best, the goal they conceded was defending at their worst. A lack of pressure from the attacking line gave San Diego time to scan the field and make the play, and OL Reign’s defense was too late to react.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK: STILL CHASING THE SECOND GOAL
It was encouraging that OL Reign were able to create more chances resulting in 15 shots today, coming off last weekend’s abysmal five shots in Chicago, but it’s back to that other song that’s plagued OL Reign early in the NWSL regular season — finishing those chances. Fishlock’s equalizer, set up through a 22-pass sequence, was obviously the high end of OL Reign’s offensive effort today, but all of the runs they made in the second half lacked that final touch of quality like what we saw when Fishlock beat Kailen Sheridan in the 38th minute. With half of June already in the books, matches in the summer will be where contenders start to make their runs and separate themselves from the pretenders. It may not be alarm bells yet, but OL Reign need to have a complete performance very soon where they’re scoring multiple goals and outright punishing their opponents.
“We have to be brave...”
In talking post-match about the equalizing goal that was a result of a 22-pass sequence, Fishlock credited defender Sam Hiatt for moving up to the midfield line to be instrumental in the sequence that led to the goal. Fishlock saying:
“I credit this one [points to Hiatt], we have to be a little braver in playing those passes. Sam’s ball to me cut off three lines and sometimes we don’t do that enough. When we can do it, we have players up top that are able to create because we’re dynamic off the ball, but we’re dynamic on the ball, too. We gotta add that a little bit more into our game. I feel when we can do that, then we’ll be scoring in twenty-two passes, everyone touching the ball, bam bam bam.”
The goal by Jess Fishlock (@JessFishlock) for OL Reign and make it 1-1 against San Diego had 22 passes in the buildup, the highest number of passes towards a goal scored in the current #NWSL season, surpassing the 12 by Midge Purce against Washington.— Tony ⚡ (@xGisfornerds) June 12, 2022
Data by StatsPerform. pic.twitter.com/wCFzyYrijQ
OL Reign’s rough opening fifteen minutes of the match and conceding the first goal woke the team up. Fishlock again:
“It was really interesting that we got together and we said, enough is enough — we’re not going to do this, calm down play, we can play on this field. Even though it’s horrible, we can do this. We have to trust ourselves. We did, and we should have won the game. I think that is really good for our group to be able to have that conversation saying, ‘enough is enough, stop doing that in these spaces.’ Get it in the pockets use some rotation, make some dynamic runs and we’re fine, and then we got ourselves into the game. I think that says a lot of our group that were able to have that honest conversation together as a team on the field and we switched it on.”
Before today’s match, Hiatt was upstate on Stanford’s campus yesterday, taking part in a graduation ceremony that featured some other notable alumnae like San Diego’s Naomi Girma and Lyon’s Catarina Macario. Hiatt confirmed that it was a postponed graduation ceremony for her and Macario, both of whom are Class of 2020, while Girma is Class of 2021.
“My senior class of 2020, we thought we were going away for spring break and they said ‘We’ll be seeing you guys in two weeks,’ and then we actually never went back. So it was really good being able to see my class and get some closure, get the graduation that we were never able to get, and it just worked out that I could go. I was able to see Cat and Naomi, check that box — a pretty momentous box — so I’m really happy I was able to do that and compete today.”
With today’s draw and results around the league, OL Reign remains in sixth place in the standings with 10 points. OL Reign are back in the comforts of home for their next three matches. Angel City FC make the trip up and visit Lumen Field on Saturday, June 18. It will be a massive day of Seattle-vs-Los Angeles sports as Lumen Field co-tenants Seattle Sounders FC will host LAFC at noon, while across the street at T-Mobile Park, the Seattle Mariners will be running a doubleheader with the Los Angeles Angels. Get ready Seattle, traffic and parking will be an adventure.
OL Reign’s match with Angel City FC will also be the club’s Juneteenth celebration, commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African-Americans. Kickoff between OL Reign and Angel City FC is scheduled for 7 PM on Saturday, June 18; the game will be broadcast on Twitch for both US and international viewers.