Following an exciting holiday weekend of NWSL Challenge Cup play, the midweek doubleheader was nothing short of dramatic, with OL Reign scoring a stoppage time game-winner and Sky Blue netting two beauties of goals, each side earning their first win of the tournament.
Now with Wednesday’s contests behind us, each team will play their final match of the preliminary rounds in the coming days before the knockout stage begins on Friday, July 17.
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OL Reign 1, Utah Royals FC 0
It took OL Reign nearly three full matches to score their first goal of the tournament, but a stoppage-time finish from 2019 NWSL Rookie of the Year Bethany Balcer was enough to give the Tacoma-based side its first win of the Challenge Cup.
Each team was pretty productive on the offensive end, combining for 26 shots in the match with 10 on target. Both goalkeepers made their first appearances of the tournament in Royals’ keeper Nicole Barnhart and OL Reign’s Michelle Betos, totaling nine saves between the two.
Balcer was knocking on the door from the moment she entered the match, leading the Reign with six shots and three on target despite entering in the 67th minute of play. The wealth was more widespread for the Royals, with Amy Rodriguez, Brittany Ratcliffe, Mallory Weber and Vero registering two shots apiece to lead the host club.
With the result, OL Reign now sits tied with the Royals, Sky Blue, Houston and Washington with four points, good for second in the table behind North Carolina.
The Royals will close out their preliminary slate on Sunday, July 12 at Zions Bank Stadium, set to take on the Chicago Red Stars at 10 p.m. ET, while OL Reign takes on Portland Thorns FC on Monday, July 13 at 12:30 p.m. ET. Both matches will be available to stream live on CBS All Access.
Sky Blue FC 2, Houston Dash 0
This matchup saw two things WoSo Stans have long awaited - a Sky Blue goal and Houston sporting their new kit.
After a slow start on the offensive to start the tournament, Sky Blue netted their first two goals of 2020 in a 2-0 shutout win over the Houston Dash on Wednesday night. In the 17th minute, Ifeoma Onumonu was able to slip a ball in behind the Dash defense for Paige Monaghan, who dribbled around Houston goalkeeper Jane Campbell for the finish.
Less than 20 minutes later, Nahomi Kawasumi caught Campbell off her line and fired a shot from around 40 yards out into the net to double the Sky Blue advantage in the 34th minute. After not registering a single shot on frame in their last outing, Sky Blue would not go quiet in this one, totaling nine shots with six on frame.
The Dash on the other hand were shutout for the first time in this tournament, taking only four shots on the night. Through three games, the Sky Blue defense has allowed just one goal, that coming in their second match against Utah off the foot of Amy Rodriguez.
With the victory, Sky Blue now comprises one of five teams tied for second place, along with the Dash with four points. Houston will take on the Washington Spirit for their final preliminary match on Sunday, July 12 at 12:30 p.m. ET, while Sky Blue faces the North Carolina Courage on Monday, July 13 at 10 p.m. ET. You can stream both those matches on CBS All Access.