OL Reign score first win of regular season against shorthanded Current

OL Reign midfielder Olivia Van der Jagt celebrates a goal by forward Bethany Balcer. (Stephen Brashear/USA TODAY Sports)

OL Reign got their first win of the regular season Wednesday, besting the Kansas City Current 1-0 at Lumen Field in Seattle.

The Reign had a flurry of chances throughout the match, taking 20 total shots. Current goalkeeper AD Franch stood strong, stopping nine shots on goal.

But Bethany Balcer finally put one in the back of the net for OL Reign, breaking a scoreless streak for the club that dated back two matches. No OL Reign player had scored since their game against Racing Louisville on May 8.

While the Reign have struggled to score, though, their defense has impressed in the last few matches. Wednesday’s win marked the Reign’s third clean sheet in a row.

Kansas City was shorthanded for the match, as coach Matt Potter and four players were out due to COVID protocols.

“That’s the game, we’ve got to learn from it, we’ve got to grow from it. We’re not going to make excuses down to our circumstances,“ Current acting head coach Lloyd Yaxley said. “We’re not going to make excuses; we’re going to fight and as a staff we’re going to knock our heads against the wall and come up with some solutions.”

The Current are in 11th place in the league with just one standings point so far, while OL Reign has six points and sits in seventh place.

Yet while the win was much-needed for the Reign, coach Laura Harvey said in the postgame press conference that the hearts of those on the team remained outside of the pitch after the Tuesday’s school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, which left 19 children and two adults dead. The team held a moment of silence before the game for those affected by the tragedy.

“As much as we’re really happy to get the win and we know that’s our job to do, we all came here with a heavy heart and wanting things to change,” she said. “I’ve lived in this country now for nearly 10 years and it’s mind blowing to me that this continues to happen.”

OL Reign forward Megan Rapinoe called for change in a lengthy postgame monologue in which she said that Americans are being “completely held hostage” by the lack of gun laws.

“It makes it seem pointless to come play,” added Rapinoe.

Members of the OL Reign are looking at what they can do as an organization beyond just speaking out on Twitter, Harvey said.

“When we get here, we have to do our job, which is brutal,” Harvey said. “It’s really difficult to do that.”