After completing The Women’s Cup side mission in Louisville, OL Reign resumed their NWSL campaign with a visit to Orlando for their first match of 2022 against the Orlando Pride.
Kickoff was delayed by roughly 40 minutes due to inclement weather in Orlando and despite controlling the ball for most of the first half, a familiar and bad trait of losing focus for a moment by OL Reign saw them concede the first goal.
The second half was much better for OL Reign as Megan Rapinoe helped the team score two goals, with Rapinoe claiming the second in dramatic fashion: a stoppage-time match winner.
Orlando’s lone goal was scored by Meggie Dougherty Howard in the 37th minute. OL Reign’s two goals were scored by Bethany Balcer in the 56th minute and Rapinoe in the second minute of second-half stoppage time.
WHAT WORKED: BALCER’S FIFTH GOAL ON THE SEASON
When they’re not taking part in an Adele jam session before training, Megan Rapinoe and Bethany Balcer can connect pretty well on some goals. They did just that in the 56th minute to equalize. It was nice to see OL Reign come out of the halftime break with energy, perhaps playing a bit angry after they conceded in the first half in such bad fashion.
.@mPinoe ➡️ @bethanybalcer ‼️@OLReign are back level!#ORLvRGN | #BoldTogether pic.twitter.com/DRCkTWQr26— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) August 27, 2022
WHAT WORKED: MEGAN RAPINOE’S STOPPAGE-TIME WINNER
Megan Rapinoe rules, that’s all. And Sofia Huerta can put a ball on a platter.
CAN YOU BELIEVE IT??? @mPinoe with a stoppage time stunner for @OLReign!#ORLvRGN | #BoldTogether pic.twitter.com/cVp1s0CJnd— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) August 27, 2022
WHAT DIDN’T WORK: A LAPSE RESULTS IN A GOAL CONCEDED
If you were to look at OL Reign as a music playlist, there are some bangers given their star power. There are also some flat-out bad songs on the playlist, and one of those bad songs this year is when OL Reign have a lapse in focus and concede a goal. Guess what — it happened again.
Orlando’s pressure forced a bad giveaway, and that’s how OL Reign were down a goal going into halftime, despite having the bulk of possession and a number of good chances at Orlando’s goal.
Here's how @MeggieDH fired the @ORLPride in front #ORLvRGN | #PrideOfOrlando pic.twitter.com/zCXshmSGZJ— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) August 27, 2022
“BOOTED THAT B- RIGHT IN THERE!”
That is how Rapinoe summarized what she saw on the play that resulted in her stoppage-time winner.
“Everything we’ve been working on for the past two weeks was for this moment,” said OL Reign head coach Laura Harvey in summarizing her overall thoughts on the team’s win tonight. With the commitments at The Women’s Cup in Louisville taken care of, Harvey said the performances there were to prepare the team for Orlando and their push to qualify for the NWSL playoffs. Being away from home for the past two weeks is never easy for any athlete, let alone a whole team, so it comes as no surprise that OL Reign are enjoying the fruits of their labor in the form of a cup competition win and three vital points in the standings.
With that, OL Reign and the rest of the league go on a FIFA international break. OL Reign have their fair share of players joining up with their national teams to play in matches — of note, Jess Fishlock and Wales have two FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
CARFAN CYMRU— Wales (@Cymru) August 25, 2022
Our final @FIFAWWC qualifiers, let's go
https://t.co/hsH0UFDnL1 #BeFootball | #TogetherStronger pic.twitter.com/WO7TYkrvwN
With other results around the league this weekend still pending, the win lifts OL Reign to 4th place in the standings for now. OL Reign resume their NWSL season and push for the playoffs on Friday, September 9, when they return home to Lumen Field, hosting the Chicago Red Stars. OL Reign will be looking to even the regular-season series after the Red Stars won the first meeting back in June when OL Reign visited Seatgeek Stadium.
OL Reign vs. Chicago Red Stars is scheduled for a 7 PM PT kickoff at Lumen Field, with the match broadcast on Paramount+ for US viewers, while international viewers can watch on Twitch.