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OL Reign overcome Portland Thorns to win NWSL Shield

Megan Rapinoe and OL Reign are aiming for the elusive NWSL championship in 2023. (Stephen Brashear/USA TODAY Sports)

The NWSL Shield has returned to Seattle for the first time since 2015, with OL Reign downing the Orlando Pride 3-0 on Saturday to claim the league title.

The Portland Thorns’ 3-3 draw with Gotham FC earlier in the night put the Shield in play for OL Reign, with the Seattle club needing a win over Orlando to move atop the league standings.

The Reign jumped out to an early lead Saturday in front of a raucous 10,746-person Lumen Field crowd.

Megan Rapinoe opened up scoring for OL Reign, tapping in a well-placed cross from Jordyn Huitema for the go-ahead finish in the eighth minute.

Huitema doubled OL Reign’s lead in the 24th minute, splitting the Pride’s center-backs before beating Michelle Betos to put her side up 2-0.

Less than ten minutes later, Bethany Balcer capped off OL Reign’s scoring blitz, one-timing a lofted cross from Jess Fishlock for a 3-0 lead.

“This league’s the best. This is why people want to be a part of it,” OL Reign head coach Laura Harvey told reporters following the win. “Because what league in the world can the winner of the league be debated on the last day of the season?”

Along with the NWSL Shield, OL Reign’s No. 1 ranking earns the club a first-round bye and a home semifinal for the playoffs.

The break could prove crucial as players head out on international duty next week, with the U.S. Women’s National Team embarking on a European swing.

“We wanted to come out and be able to play the game and put our stamp on it and get a goal that has been ours throughout the year,” Rapinoe said. “We have a little bit further to go, definitely some unfinished business from our careers, but just an incredibly special night.”

OL Reign will host their semifinal matchup at Lumen Field on Oct. 23.