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Lauren Barnes becomes first NWSL player to log 200 appearances

(OL Reign/Jane Gershovich)

OL Reign captain Lauren “Lu” Barnes is the first player to make 200 regular season appearances in NWSL history, playing all 90 minutes in the Reign’s 2-1 win over the visiting Kansas City Current on Saturday.

During her 11-season tenure with the Reign, Barnes has only missed 14 of the club’s 214 regular season games. The 34-year-old also holds the league record for most games started (196) and minutes played (17,328).

Reign head coach Laura Harvey, who also recently hit her 200th regular season NWSL game coached, struggled to find words to describe Barnes’ feat.

“It’s really hard to put in perspective how big of an achievement that is for her,” Harvey said. “To have done it for the same club, in a league that’s set up for that not to happen, is phenomenal.”

Despite her longevity in the league, Barnes isn’t exactly the biggest NWSL — or even OL Reign — name, something Harvey called out on Saturday.

“She’s willing to put her body on the line for the team and she does it without needing to be the star,” the head coach said. “She’s humble and wants everyone else to get the limelight instead of it being her.”

True to form, Barnes played down the accomplishment in her post-game remarks.

“For me, it’s another game,” she said. “We’ve been focused on what’s ahead of us, game by game. So, I’m proud of the team, we put up a good performance together, today, and yeah, 200 with one club, I couldn’t be more proud.”

Barnes, a UCLA alum who played in the Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) league before it folded, was selected by the Reign — then Seattle Reign FC — as the 10th overall pick in the NWSL’s Supplemental Draft in 2013. She is one of just five players to have played with the same club since the NWSL’s launch, joining Reign teammates Megan Rapinoe and Jess Fishlock, plus Christine Sinclair (Portland Thorns) and Tori Huster (Washington Spirit).

“If I thought I was gonna still be here 11 years ago, I would probably say no,” Barnes told the Associated Press earlier this season. “The way the league started off, there’s been huge improvements. There’s definitely a life and an opportunity to make this a lifestyle and a job — the last probably three to five years or so. So that’s really promising for the next generations to come and it’s been really fun to be a part of that and build that.”

NJ/NY Gotham FC’s McCall Zerboni (198) is the next NWSL player in line to hit 200 regular season appearances.