Stoppage time goal lifts OL Reign over Angel City FC

OL Reign became the first team to clinch a spot in the Challenge Cup semifinals. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

OL Reign (4-1-0) scored a stoppage time goal on Sunday to beat Angel City FC (0-1-4) by a score of 2-1 and clinch a spot in the NWSL Challenge Cup semifinals.

Bethany Balcer struck first in the 34th minute, her second of the season. She nearly made it 2-0 before halftime on an attempt that was called offside.

“We could’ve made a stamp on that game and it took us a little bit longer than we would’ve liked to settle in,” Balcer said. “We just have to learn how to problem solve within the game. That’s a great piece that we can learn.”

The scored stayed at 1-0 until the late minutes of the game, when Simone Charley sent a header past OL Reign’s Phallon Tullis-Joyce in the 82nd minute to tie the game.

Olivia Van der Jagt – a third round pick by the Reign in the 2022 Draft – then found the back of the net in the fourth minute of stoppage time to make it 2-1 and secure the win for the home team.

“I do have a reputation for not being good in the draft (but) Olo has been exceptional,” said Reign coach Laura Harvey. “We’re only scratching the surface with her…She’s going to be a huge part of this roster moving forward.”

Despite the loss, the game was still a step in the right direction for ACFC. In three games prior, the defense had allowed 10 goals, but it held one of the best teams in the NWSL to just two goals total Sunday.

“I think we were much improved tonight in terms of our defending, especially in transition,” Angel City coach Freya Coombe said. “We have to look at our organized attack and perfect that to be able to make more of our entries into the final third and turn them into more attacking opportunities, especially inside the box.

“The last goal was a sucker punch. We made a few errors there in terms of how we set ourselves up for the goal kick and that hurt us there.”

Charley called it “another step in our learning process.”

“This is literally a brick-by-brick type thing,” Charley said. “I hate that we learned this the hard way. We go again, but better next time…It is really frustrating, but we learn this lesson and we move on.”