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Match Forecast: Reign Host Courage Saturday Night in First Regular Season Match of 2021

May 14, 2021 - National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) - OL Reign News Release


TACOMA, WA - OL Reign will host the North Carolina Courage at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma, Washington on Saturday, May 15 at 7:00 p.m. PT in its first match of the 2021 NWSL regular season. The Reign will battle a revamped Courage lineup, which has seen the departures of defenders Crystal Dunn and Abby Dahlkemper, midfielder Sam Mewis, and outside back Jaelene Daniels. North Carolina now features a few familiar faces, including former OL Reign goalkeeper Casey Murphy and defenders Schuyler DeBree and Taylor Smith, each of whom were acquired in offseason transactions between the Courage and Reign.

Last Match: 2-1 Win vs. Kansas City

OL Reign secured its second win of the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup presented by Secret Deodorant against Kansas City at Field of Legends in Kansas City, Kansas on Monday, May 3, in its last match of the 2021 Challenge Cup. The Reign finished the Challenge Cup in second place in the five-team Western Division.

"Two wins in a row makes us very happy," said OL Reign head coach Farid Benstiti. "We worked hard to make a comeback in the match and are ready to carry the lessons we learned from the Challenge Cup over to the season."

OL Reign had a disjointed start in the game, creating an early opportunity for Kansas City to take advantage of the Reign's lack of cohesiveness. KC forward Mallory Weber opened the scoring just six minutes in with a curled shot from the top of the 18-yard box. After defending several more Kansas City attacks, OL Reign gained their footing and began to connect offensively and defensively. In the 33rd minute, Tziarra King carried the ball into the box and drew a foul, earning a penalty kick for the Reign. Jess Fishlock stepped up to take the penalty, easily sending the Kansas City goalkeeper the wrong way with her low, powerful shot to the left side of the goal. The two teams continued to battle throughout the match, remaining deadlocked at 1-1 until the 84th minute, when Lauren Barnes flicked a ball on to Celia, who headed the ball into the back of the net, securing the 2-1 win for OL Reign.

"We were focused on our principles as a team last game and connected well to play more cohesively as a team. Finding that harmony is important to us, and we are prepared to work for another result against Kansas City this week," Benstiti said.

Scouting North Carolina

The last time OL Reign faced the North Carolina Courage was in the NWSL semifinal playoff match on October 20, 2019 at Sahlen's Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina, where North Carolina came away with the 4-1 win. North Carolina scored first, in the 88th minute of the match. The Reign equalized just five minute later, in the 3rd minute of stoppage time, sending the match into extra time. North Carolina scored three more goals in extra time, in the 99th, 106th, and 107th minutes, to come away with the win.

Following that match against the Reign, the North Carolina Courage went on the defeat the Chicago Red Stars 4-0 in the NWSL Championship final, winning the NWSL Championship for the second year in a row. The team also won the NWSL shield, finishing with the most points in the league for the third consecutive year.

In their most recent match, North Carolina battled the Orlando Pride to a 0-0 draw in their last game of the 2021 Challenge Cup, missing out on the championship game by one point. The tie put North Carolina (2-1-1) in second place in the five-team Eastern Division.

Celia Earns NWSL Budweiser Player of the Week

The National Women's Soccer League named OL Reign defender Celia as the league's Budweiser Player of the Week for her performance against Kansas City on Monday, May 3. The NWSL Player of the Week is selected each week by the NWSL Media Association, a collection of writers that cover the league on a consistent basis.

"I am delighted for Celia. She is always working hard out on the field and had an excellent goal against Kansas City," said OL Reign head coach Farid Benstiti. "She is a consistent player that we can count on to put in 90 minutes of quality play each game."

The former University of the Alabama defender has been a major contributor to the club's Challenge Cup run, as she played 90 minutes in all four of the Reign's Challenge Cup matches. She had two shots on target in the tournament and scored one goal. Celia's versatility as a player was highlighted when she showcased her ability to contribute to the strength of the OL Reign backline as both an outside back and center back.

Celia is the first OL Reign player to win the Player of the Week award this year.

"Being able to help the team is always rewarding," said Celia. "This victory was very important to finish the tournament strong and head into the season with some momentum. This week was particularly special. I have a new family member, so I was so happy to dedicate my goal to my new nephew."

MultiCare Injury Report

OUT

Quinn - Lower leg

Ella Dederick - Knee

Ally Watt - ACL

QUESTIONABLE

Sam Hiatt

How to Get Tickets

Single match tickets for the game against the North Carolina Courage on Saturday, May 15, as well as tickets for the game against the Washington Spirit on Sunday, May 30 are available by calling (866) 99-REIGN or by visiting Ticketmaster.

How to Watch

Fans in the USA and internationally can watch the match on Twitch.

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