Utah Royals FC Defeat Reign FC 3-1
Amy Rodriguez scored for the Royals in the 67th minute. Photo: www.twitter.com/UtahRoyalsFC

Utah Royals FC Defeat Reign FC 3-1

The Utah Royals FC just made the playoff race even tighter.

jessicaaguann
Jessica Guan

Just as many thought the Utah Royals FC were tumbling out of the playoff race, they made a trip to the Pacific Northwest and downed the Reign FC.

Stengel scores first of season

Katie Stengel, who led the Royals in scoring last year, ironically entered this match without a tally to her name this season. But that all changed just three minutes into this match. Amy Rodriguez received a long pass on the right side of the field. She cut around Reign FC defenders Lauren Barnes and Stephanie Catley before attempting a shot from a difficult angle. It hit the post but bounced back out in a perfect position for Stengel to rebound into the net.

The home team had a great chance to level the match in the 29th minute. Bethany Balcer weaved through traffic and executed a give and go with Shea Groom, but her shot hit the side netting.

Three minutes later, they again had an attacking advantage in the right channel. Jodie Taylor was free after getting a pass from Groom but hit her shot into the side panel, too.

The Reign did temporarily equalize in the 41st minute via Groom. The ball was crossed into the box, and players from both teams challenged to win it in the air. In the end, a Royals defender couldn’t clear it away, and Groom was there to pounce on the loose ball, rifling it into the goal from close range with great power.

LaBonta and Rodriguez seal three points for Utah

Lo'eau LaBonta scored what would end up being the game winner for Utah in the 59th minute. She dribbled into the box despite multiple Reign FC defenders being near her and skillfully chipped the ball over Casey Murphy.

In the 67th minute, it would be Rodriguez who put her name on the score sheet after rebounding Stengel's shot. Stengel cut the ball onto her right foot near the top of the box and took a shot directly at Murphy, but Murphy could not hold onto it. Rodriguez was in the right place to punish her for that mistake.

Rodriguez wasn't far from finding a second goal in the 82nd minute. Royals captain Becky Sauerbrunn had the ball in the midfield and passed it to Rodriguez who then took a few touches before attempting to chip the ball over Murphy from a few yards outside of the box. Her shot narrowly flew over the crossbar.

Six minutes later, Murphy was again called into action to make a reaction save on a header by Rodriguez off a cross from USWNT striker Christen Press.

Both sides now prepare for trips to the East Coast next weekend. On Saturday, the Utah Royals FC (7-6-3) play the Orlando Pride, and on Sunday, the Reign FC (7-4-5) play Sky Blue FC.

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