While all eyes are on the run up to the Women’s World Cup, a shake up is quietly playing out in the National Women’s Soccer League.
Reign FC earned a 2-1 win over the potent North Carolina Courage Monday, the Reign’s first victory in franchise history over the North Carolina side.
Bethan Balcer and Shea Groom scored the crucial goals for host Reign (2-1-3, 9 points). Abby Ercreg scored the sole goal for the Courage (2-2-3, 9 points), who now have lost more games than they did all of last season.
“I was very happy about the outcome of the game,” Reign FC coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “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. I’m just happy we were able to get a positive result.”
While most NWSL teams are adjusting to life without international stars called up for the World Cup, Reign FC got a boost from Jess Fishlock, who made her 2019 NWSL debut after spending part of the season on loan with Olympique Lyon in France. Fishlock played a full 90 minutes. She completed 25 of 36 passes and made nine recoveries, three clearances and one interception to go with a shot on goal.
Reign FC struck early in the match, with Balcer heading home Kristen McNabb’s cross in the 13th minute.
After a physical and scoreless stretch, Reign tacked on another goal.
In the 86th minute, Groom fired a left-footed shot from outside the box and slotted it to the bottom left corner of the net to push Reign up 2-0.
In the 89th minute, North Carolina countered. Jaelene Hinkle delivered a cross off a corner and Ercrg headed it home.
The Courage nearly picked up the equalizer in the sixth minute of stoppage time, but Merritt Mathias’ left-footed shot from outside the box hit the bar.
Seattle finished with 15 shots on goal, while North Carolina recorded 13.
Reign FC’s Casey Murphy and North Carolina’s Katelyn Rowland finished with four saves apiece.