OL Reign’s return to Lumen Field on Saturday night was a victorious one, even if goals were still hard to come by.
Angel City FC goalkeeper DiDi Haracic reacted strongly but had little chance as OL Reign went up 1-0, the way the game eventually ended. In the 31st minute, Angelina fired in her direction. The ball bounced off several bodies before Bethany Balcer found her opening.
OL Reign nearly made it two quick ones, but a chance clanged off the crossbar.
“I think we could have dominated the second half a little bit more, but I was pretty happy with the last couple of minutes and how we sealed the game off,” Reign midfielder Quinn said.
In the 74th minute, Balcer limped off the field twice following a collision. She tried to return but crumbled again before play could resume. Ally Watt replaced her. Megan Rapinoe, recently subbed off and on a yellow card, was sent off from the bench, shown a red card for dissent.
“I felt it was a consistent theme throughout the game that both benches, both sets of players, were concerned about the safety of their teammates,” OL Reign coach Laura Harvey said.
The Reign were able to keep 11 players on the field, as Rapinoe was sent off after being replaced by Tziarra King.
Harvey didn’t have an update on Balcer afterward.
OL Reign tested Haracic frequently in the first half. Rapinoe sent it buzzing by the top corner and took it in again a minute later. A pass was broken up before it could get to teammate Veronica Latsko.
Latsko, Balcer and Alana Cook each had another look before Balcer converted.
“When the game’s 1-0, the other team always has a chance of getting in the game,” Harvey said. “And then things became out of control, on both sides.
“When the game is a little bit chaotic and out of control, you’ve got to have a way of controlling the game.”
OL Reign had gone six straight without scoring more than one goal, the team’s longest run of that kind since eight straight from July to August in 2019 according to the league, and that streak continued.
“It’s another 1-0 victory that should have been more and we made it more difficult for ourselves,” Harvey said. “It’s a consistent pattern.”
OL Reign (3-2-4) and Angel City FC (4-4-1) met for the first time in the regular season. The teams met twice in the NWSL Challenge Cup. OL Reign took both, including a 2-1 decision April 17 at Lumen Field.
Rose Lavelle was ruled out with an ankle injury shortly before the start of the match. Harvey said she was hurt in training Friday.
“We didn’t think it was worth the risk,” the coach added. “I think she’ll be fine in a couple of days. If this had happened on Wednesday, she’d be fine.”
Reign sign Canadian national team member
OL Reign announced earlier Saturday that it signed forward Jordyn Huitemato to an international roster spot through the 2023 season with the option to extend it through 2024. Huitemato was introduced at halftime.
Huitema, 21, was recently named to the Canadian Women’s National Team roster for the upcoming international window. She will join the Reign upon her return from international duty. Her involvement Saturday was limited to tossing T-shirts to fans.
“I’ve never had another Canadian on my team,” Quinn said. “So I’m pretty pumped about that.
“(Jordyn) is such a talented young player. She’s such a physical presence. I think just clinical finishing — she’s going to provide us with opportunities in front of the net and I’m excited to see that happen.”